The Essentials of Poetry (Eiga taigai)

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

    ca. 1639
  • Geography

  • Material

    Ink on gold and silver-flecked paper with ivory jiku
  • Dimension

    H x W (overall): 27.2 x 516.6 cm (10 11/16 x 203 3/8 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Artist

    Shokado Shojo 松花堂昭乗 (1584-1639)
  • Inscriptions

    1. (Y. Shimizu, 1981) [Inscribed:] written by my brush in accordance with the request from Doshun, the Seal of the Law.
    [Signed:] Shokado Shojo
    Colophon on separate sheet of paper, attached to the end of the scroll, by Hoso'ai Hansai dated 1781.
    (Translation by Y. Shimizu of the colophon, 1981)
    This Eiga taigai handscroll first appeared in Naniwa [the old name for Osaka]. According to the owner of the antique shop which had it, the scroll had come from Bizen as merchandise. Because I was the principal figure of the school of Shoka(do)'s calligraphy, the shop owner first asked me to authenticate and evaluate it. As soon as I unrolled a column or two of the scroll, there was no doubt in my mind that it was written by our patriarch of calligraphy (i.e. Shokado). At the end of the scroll was an inscription and a cipher, through which I learned that it had been written for Hayashi Doshun (i.e. Razan: 1583-1657) [Since Shokado] fully attained his intent, the calligraphy should be considered precious and very important. I secretly wanted to acquire it for myself, the price of the scroll being not necessarily too expensive, but, for me, it was not cheap either. What the shop owner wanted was something I could not afford and I felt, after having authenticated it, he just wanted to find out if such an unusual price should be put on the scroll. So I told him that it would be perfectly alright if there was already someone else who wanted to buy it before me, and that basically I did not want to deprive another person of his wishes, and that since the person might be in our group I would drop the matter. But the shop owner again opened the matter about the price. Could it have been that customer after customer who did not buy the scroll did not like it without a price tag and thus the shop owner kept coming back to me? Thus, I finally took the scroll and returned to Bizen.
    Now amidst our group was one Mr. Sawada, who had shown great progress in calligraphy. As a connoisseur of calligraphy, he could certainly be counted among the two or three very best. I recounted to him everything about the scroll, and he really expressed great feeling for it. Since he and I were of the same spirit we did not discuss its price. (Mr. Sawada) thereupon went to the shop owner imploring numerous times asking for the scroll. Finally after several months, he want again to Naniwa. The scroll, then priced exactly the same as before, became Mr. Sawada's possession. Since by then I had already read the letter of thanks to Shokado's Eiga taigai included in Razan's prose anthology, and having climbed the hill of Otokoyama and visited the main temple there, where, when coming down, I was shown personal letters as well as the original letter of thanks by Razan, I considered the scroll to be more and more important.
    Now, among the tea-aesthetes of Naniwa are also numerous calligraphers. Those of the powerful and influential families and their disciples are taken to elegant pastime and collecting of art objects. If they avail themselves of connoisseurship, authenticating objects, what a niggardly thing [that the shop asked me to authenticate the scroll]! Mr. Sawada is different; he is certainly beyond [such behavior]. As to the shop owner, he certainly was up to no good for having treated with contempt a poor person like myself.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Japanese Art in the Age of Koetsu (June 6, 1998 to February 15, 1999)
    From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy (July 28, 1986 to February 6, 1987)
    Japanese Calligraphy (December 21, 1984 to November 7, 1985)
    Japanese Art—Autumn Voices (October 14, 1981 to December 16, 1981)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — funds provided by the bequest of Edith Ehrman
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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