attributed to Prince Abbot Soen (1298-1356)

Four Poems from the Wakan Roeishu
(Japanese and Chinese Poems to Sing)

handscroll with four poems, ink, color, gold and silver on paper; each poem with delicate hand-painted details such as tiny dragonflies, nadeshiko (carnations), chidori (plovers) and stylized waves; lavishly mounted with backing-paper scattered with gold and silver flakes and shakudo nanako rollers decorated with gilt applied chrysanthemums; the first two Chinese poems (unread) in kanji script, the second two Japanese poems in hiragana script; the mounting 19th century, the poems late Kamakura Period/early Muromachi Period, 14th century

12 by 92 3/4 in., 30.5 by 235.5 cm

The Wakan Roeishu (Japanese and Chinese Poems for Singing) is an anthology of Chinese poems and Japanese waka (31 syllable poems) compiled circa 1013 by Fujiwara no Kinto (966-1041) to use with melodies (now lost). The 588 poems in total (of which 216 are Japanese waka verse) were divided into two books, the first with seasonal poems, and the second devoted to other subjects. The first two poems of the handscroll are Chinese and unread. The third and fourth poem are Japanese, and both reference the cherry blossoms of spring.

calligraphy poem

Yononaka ni
taete sakura no
haru no kokoro ha
nodoke karamashi

If cherry trees
would only vanish
from the world
our hearts might be
serene each spring
Ariwara no Narihira (825-880)

calligraphy poem

kono shimokaze wa
sorani shirarenu
yukizo furikeru

Although I have thought
spring is in progress
snow still remains on
the root of cherry tree
— Ki no Tsurayuki (872-945)

attributed to Prince Abbot Soen

The calligrapher, Prince Soen was the 6th son of Emperor Fushimi (1265-1317). At the age of ten he was sent to Shoren-in Temple to become a monk. He studied the calligraphy of prominent Japanese calligraphers of Heian period: Ono no Tofu (894-967) and Fujiwana no Michikaze (894-966); and the Chinese calligrapher Zhang Jizhi, of South Song Dynasty. Soen later combined the calligraphy styles of these masters to created his own style known as Sonen-ryu or Shoren-in ryu. An unsigned portrait of Soen dated to circa 1350 is currently in the collection of Honolulu Academy Arts.

The hand-scroll is mounted with a certificate of attribution by Prince Sochin (1477-1522), the son of Emperor Go-Kashiwabara (1464-1526), who was also a monk of Shoren-in where he studied Shoren-in ryu.




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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
September 28, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475