Through my interest in Japanese swords, I have
come to appreciate the hanging scrolls (kakejiku) usually displayed behind a set
of swords in a Japanese home. These kakejiku usually contain Zen-ga, or Zen
painting. Zen-ga is monochrome ink brush painting, traditionally done as a
meditation exercise by Buddhist priests, warrior/poets, and others.
There are several common themes, with simple calligraphy
of a classical poem or a stylized Chinese character the most common. Most frequently,
this art is displayed in the tokonoma, the place of highest honor in a Japanese home
or tea house. These works are thought to be a direct expression of the artist's spirit;
consequently, it can be considered religious art in the purest sense.
The calligraphy of famous priests, tea masters,
samurai, and the like, are treasured in Japan. While appreciation of the spirit
of the artist is perhaps beyond those not steeped in the Buddhist tradition, and
the Chinese characters often illegible, the works can easily be appreciated as beautiful
abstractions in ink.
Many famous 19th and 20th century figures who
played a part in the modern history of Japanese swords were known to create calligraphy
for display in kakejiku. I have been collecting these as well as swords, and would
like to share a few...Please have a look. I often come across these at flea
markets and antique shows.
||calligraphy by Nakayama Hakudo