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National Treasure

One Page of the Calligraphy Album ‘Tekagami Kanboku-jo’: the ‘Koya-gire’ Fragment of the Japanese poem anthology ‘Kokin wakashu’


Artist Attributed to Ki-no-Tsurayuki
Period Heian period, mid-11th century
Materials and techniques Ink on paper
Size 26.0×22.1


This is a fragment from the fourth volume of "Katsura Version Manyoshu", the oldest copy of "Manyoshu", which was transmitted in the Katsura-no-miya family. It is known for its quality paper and magnificent calligraphy, and fragments from it, called "Toganoo-gire" probably from the Toganoo region in Tokyo where they were preserved, have long been valued as masterpieces of ancient writing. Paper used for the writing are dyed paper of various colors decorated with beautiful underdrawings executed in gold and silver. The paper for this particular fragment is a light indigo blue sheet with underdrawings of birds, water current and willow which, combined with the flowing calligraphy, makes this a beautiful piece. The work has traditionally been attributed to Minamoto-no-Shitago (911-983) however the calligraphic style is the same as in "Koya-gire" (second type) and the Sekido Version of the "Wakan roeishu-gire" (Plate 175), and from this, it is surmised that the piece was actually copied by Minamoto-no-Kaneyuki (1024-78) in the middle of the 11th century.

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