Selected poems

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Artist: Emperor Fushimi (1265-1317; reigned 1287-98)
Inscription: (of outer label) Emperor Gonara (1496-1557)
Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, ca. 1294
Handscroll; ink on paper decorated with gold and silver
H x W (overall): 29.9 x 252.9 cm (11 3/4 x 99 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


cursive script, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), semi-cursive script

Sakai Shinsaku [1]

From at least 1973 to 1973
N.V. Hammer, Inc., from at least 1973

From 1973
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from N. V. Hammer, Inc. in 1973


[1] For source of Sakai Shinsaku provenance, see Curatorial Note 2, Y. Shimizu, 1979 in object record. From 1962 to 1965, this object was exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum (see Curatorial Note 2, Y. Shimizu, 1979, in object record).

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

N.V. Hammer, Inc.
Sakai Shinsaku


This handscroll is written on paper lavishly decorated with cloudlike patterns, landscapes, and abstract designs in silver and gold.  The elegant calligraphy presents five poems from the Shinkokinshu (New Anthology of Ancient and Modern Verse), compiled in 1205.  Exceptional calligraphic style is apparent in this unsigned scroll, which preserves the nuances of the fluent writing of Japanese hiragana script and Chinese characters associated with Emperor Fushimi, an accomplished calligrapher. A label written by Emperor Gonara (1496-1557), attributes the scroll to Emperor Fushimi who reigned briefly between 1287 and 1298. This calligraphy was written by the youthful Emperor Fushimi, when he was following the model of Heian-period calligrapher Fujiwara no Yukinari (or Kozei, 972-1027). The spacious composition and spacing of this calligraphy, however, already reveals a distinctive personal style. The paper is decorated with a design executed in gold and silver pigments and leaf that suggests a landscape of a shoreline, clouds, water, and hills in the distance. The landscape design in shimmering gold and silver creates the illusion of dissolving the flat surface plane of the paper so that the fluently written calligraphy appears to float.

Published References
  • Komatsu Shigemi. Nihon shoryu zenzhi. 2 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2: p. 71, pls. 237.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 44, p. 56.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 25, pp. 78-79.
  • Phaidon Editors. 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space. New York. p. 301.
  • Larry Ball. 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space. London and New York, 2007. p. 608.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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