Names in Japanese
|The item on the right shows the
original Chinese poem with a partial Japanese translation just to its left. In red are the notations made by the artist. These
notations can represent a number of things. Often times the Chinese characters used in
these poems are not used in modern Japanese. Also, Chinese has no phonetic alphabet
for grammar but rather relies on more than 60,000 Chinese characters. Japanese has two phonetic syllabaries, called kana
for grammatical elements and to handle words borrowed from other languages.
Additionally, Japanese has 3,000 characters called kanji which are
Chinese characters adopted to write modern Japanese.
The characters for the poem are given in a Block (kaisho) script and must be converted to the target script. Takase Sensei prefers the cursive script and so for her art will covert the characters to Cursive (sousho) script.
The positioning of the following elements are critical to the artistic balance of the piece:
Nijimi (blotted area)
The placement of each of these elements along with the beauty of the script defines the artistic value of the work
Traditional Japanese calligraphy is well defined with rules requiring that there is at least one blotted area (nijimi) and one patchy area (kasure) in the piece. Other rules exist, for example, two blotted characters may not be next to each other.
It is the balance of
these elements, perfection alongside seeming imperfections, that make a true
work of art.
A Poem by Ranjin
A western observer might see the blotting as a defect thinking that perhaps the calligrapher applied too much ink to the brush causing the ink to bleed into the paper. However, in traditional Japanese calligraphy the work would be unacceptable without the nijimi (or blotted area). As it would be unacceptable without the kasure (or patchy area) where it appears that the brush was running out of ink. This corresponds to the concept developed for the tea ceremony where the imperfection is as much a part of the artistic value as is the technical excellence.
The piece on the right measures 20 3/4"W x 89 3/4"H. It is a combination of two poems by Ranjin of seven syllable couplets. The original text for the poem in Chinese with the Japanese translation is exactly what the calligrapher receives prior to starting the design.
|A Poem by Sonpun
This next piece is a poem by Sonpun and is also of the seven syllable couplet style. It consists of 112 characters and like the above work measures 20 3/4"W x 89 3/4"H.
These poems are Chinese classics. This poem, for example, is a narrative of a man visiting the city of Kishu. He talks of the river swelling after the snow of the harsh winter has thawed and of what he sees in the village. The details of the artwork to the right is shown below (in Japanese and Chinese):
This particular piece was chosen for an open exhibition at the Apollo Museum of Arts in Osaka, Japan.
Traditional Japanese calligraphy is both formalized and exact. While artistic expression and genius are necessary, they are also confined within the technical excellence required by this very standardized art form.
Judging involves a group of judges from the society. Typically there will be hundreds of entries and the judges will be presented with five separate works shown together on a very large board that is rolled in before the judges. The judges do not know who did each of the works so for the most part it is a completely blind judging. It is not perfectly so as artists that are better known will have a recognizable style. The panel of judges will choose one of the five works and that work will advance to the next round. This process continues until the final pieces are selected.
works shown here by Takase Sensei have won best of category awards in
national competitions using this type of judging.
|Calligraphic Societies In Japan
There are many calligraphic societies in Japan as Japanese Calligraphy is an extremely popular hobby today. Master Takase belonged to societies whose members were limited to calligraphy teachers and professional and who represented the very best in Japan.
The work on the right is an excerpt from the register of Bokuteki-kai and shows an early work of Takase Sensei. This is a best in class awards for a national competition with Takase Sensei's work is on the very right.
With rank, the Japanese calligrapher is given a Chinese nom de plume and as shown here, Takase Sensei's nom de plume is Takase Sairei.
Very few calligraphers ever receive the honor of best in class and Takase Sensei has received this honor more that four times in two different and prestigious societies: the Bokuteki-kai and Bunka-shodo.
Bokuteki-kai is a calligraphic society devoted to training professional calligraphers. As there are many calligraphy societies in Japan, ones ranking in a particular society has no bearing on the ranking in another society. And the requirements of a rank are different from society to society.
Takase Sensei is ranked as a master in both Bokuteki-kai and Bunka Shodo.
While the work on the right is remarkably different from the others shown above, note
the absence of color and of anything other than the Chinese characters on
Japanese paper. Japanese calligraphy is a traditional art and the artist must
work strictly within the rules. As an example, to add any
color or sumi-e drawing to the work would mean instant disqualification.
|In June 2008, Master Takase created this work for a private
collector. The work is on a single sheet of uncut handmade Japanese
paper. The natural color, off-white paper seems to float on the
white mat board.
This is the mantra from Heart Sutra meaning "Gone. Gone. Gone Beyond. Gone Completely Beyond. Praise to Awakening" which the current Dalai Lama explains as "go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment."
In Japanese this is read "gyatei, gyatei, hara gyatei, hara sou gyatei, boji sowaka" and the title Heart Sutra was appended on the left which is "hannya shingyo."
Learn Japanese Calligraphy Lessons 1 - 6 by Eri Takase
The Learn Japanese Calligraphy Series by Eri Takase is a complete Japanese Calligraphy course on CD-ROMs. With these CD's you can learn Japanese Calligraphy by actually seeing the characters being brushed by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase. Japanese Calligraphy is all about movement and you simply cannot learn the proper movement from a book. These CD lessons show videos of Master Takase brushing the characters - You can learn proper technique by seeing the characters properly brushed over and over again.
The first CD includes
topics on tool selection, posture, how to hold the brush as well as the basic strokes of
the block font. Each lesson covers the stroke
order with examples that can be printed. Combined with our
Japanese Calligraphy Sets you will have all you need to begin your study of
About the Artist
Master Japanese Calligrapher, or more properly, Shihan
Eri Takase has been living and working in the United States since 1995. Her
work has sold all over the world as custom art for individuals, on
commercial products, in books, magazines, and in film. Her brand of
traditional Japanese calligraphy has been described as refined and cultured.
After a lifetime study of traditional calligraphy in Japan, Master Takase
has devoted herself to adapting the art of Japanese Calligraphy to new
mediums and methods and the results are breathtaking.
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