Asian Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Calligrapher: Hon’ami Kōetsu, Japanese, 1558–1637
Designer (print): Tawaraya Sōtatsu, Japanese, active 1600–1643

Poem in the Waka Style

ca. 1606

Hanging scroll: Ink over color, gold, and silver on paper; with ivory rollers

without mounting: 7 1/2 × 6 3/4 in. (19.1 × 17.2 cm)
with mounting: 51 15/16 × 12 9/16 in. (132 × 31.9 cm)
Purchased with funds from The Japan Foundation Endowment of the Council on East Asian Studies
This collaborative piece is the work of the calligrapher Hon’ami Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died ca. 1643), a painter and paper designer. Composed by Fujiwara no Shigeie in the eleventh century as part of a 100-poem sequence on secret love, the poem was recorded in the famous New Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern (Shin kokin wakashū) and reads, “Shall I call them tears I shed in worry about the life to come as I wring them from my sun-dyed sleeves?” Kōetsu chose to use large Chinese characters so that the poem could be written in fewer characters and more of the paper design would be seen. The characters are also rendered in thick black ink and made legible against the well-defined background, expressing the bold aesthetics of the Momoyama period.
Momoyama period (1573–1615)

Acquired by Iwao Setsu, Tokyo, 1980s; Setsu Gatodo, Tokyo, Japan (dealer, Isao Setsu); purchased by the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2009


Jock Reynolds, “Director’s Report: July 1, 2009–June 30, 2010,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010): 12–13, ill.

Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Calligraphy at Yale: From Sutra to the Avant-Garde,” Arts of Asia (March–April 2018): 93, fig. 11.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.