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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Japanese
Title: Poem of Thirty-one syllables
Date: Edo period
Medium: Hanging scroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: Image: 15 1/8 x 21 9/16 in. (38.4 x 54.8 cm)
Credit Line: George and Mary Rockwell Collection
Object Number: 98.138
Label Text: Among the educated elite of Japan, calligraphy was considered an art form commensurate with or higher than painting, as it was in China. Prior to the ninth century, Chinese culture had a tremendous impact on many aspects of Japanese culture, including the introduction of the Chinese writing system as well as literary forms. In the ninth and tenth centuries, however, the Japanese imperial court promoted indigenous modes of expression. Among the many developments of this period was a new poetry form called waka, consisting of thirty-one syllables. Waka presented a purely Japanese poetic diction that consciously rejected Chinese forms. The legacy of this and other arts from the Heian era (794-1185), a golden age when the arts flourished, can be seen in later Japanese art and culture. As Japan's foremost aristocractic literary form, waka anthologies were compiled by generations of Japan's emperors and princes, many of whom were accomplished calligraphers. Prince Tsunahito's waka displays the elegance and conservative approach that characterizes much of Japanese aristocractic calligraphy.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.