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Fragment from the Muromachi Edition of the Collection of Poems by Hitomaro
National treasure
(Some of the works of theMoshiogusa (Brinish Seaweed) Album of Exemplary Calligraphy)
Height 20.0cm Width 15.7cm
Kyoto National Museum
A tekagami, or album of exemplary calligraphy, is a collection of excerpts from old scrolls or books of sutras, poems and letters. The selection of calligraphers in a tekagami, its types of calligraphy and its order tell us about the changing tastes in classical Japanese-style calligraphy over the years. Moshigusa, an album of 242 detached segments ranging from the Nara to the Muromachi Periods, was handed down from generation to generation as a reference register a family that remained the central, calligraphy authority throughout the Edo period. Among the segments is the "Muromachi-gire," one of only two surviving fragments from the Hitomaroshu, which is part of the Anthologies of Thirty-Six Poets, formerly owned by the Nishi-Honganji temple. The "Okadera-gire" is another rare, detached segment from Minamoto Shitagoshu of the same set. Both are excellent specimens of kana script in the early-12th Century.