Chinese poem

Artist: Ono Kozan (1814-1910)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, 1906
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
H x W (image): 137.7 × 34.3 cm (54 1/4 × 13 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Lawrence and Sonia Klein
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

cursive script, Japan, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), semi-cursive script
Provenance research underway.

Ono Kozan was one of Japan's three greatest composers of Chinese verse during the Meiji era (1868-1912). His life and work were inspired by the ideals of Chinese scholars who practiced poetry, calligraphy, and painting. His poem reads:

Who says there is no reward for winning a hundred battles,
For ten-thousand miles all the East lies within our grasp.
Blessed with imperial favor as they fared beyond the pass,
Uniforms in the heat of spring, fallen petals on the wind.

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Kozan's inscription notes that he wrote this poem for the painting by Tomioka Tessai of fallen flowers at Nakoso Barrier (see F1992.22). Collaborative works were frequently produced by Japanese poets, painters, and calligraphers who met often to share common interests, refreshed by cups of wine or tea. Although Tessai's painting is based on a twelfth-century Japanese poem, the historical circumstances in which these two works were created suggest that they may also refer to a contemporary event: the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, which ended in victory for Japan. Japanese military forces had gone far beyond the Nakoso pass, which had in ancient times marked the limit of imperial control. The imagery in the painting and the poem of fallen cherry blossoms--symbols of the brevity of life--may represent the tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers who lost their lives during the recent war.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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