National TreasureFragment from the Dairi Edition of Kokin Wakashu (Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems),

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  • Height 25.3cm Width 15.5cm
  • Kyoto National Museum

A tekagami, or album of exemplary calligraphy, is a collection of excerpts from old scrolls or books of sutras, poems and letters. The selection of calligraphers in a tekagami, its types of calligraphy and its order tell us about the changing tastes in classical Japanese-style calligraphy over the years. Moshigusa, an album of 242 detached segments ranging from the Nara to the Muromachi Periods, was handed down from generation to generation as a reference register a family that remained the central, calligraphy authority throughout the Edo period. Among the segments is the "Muromachi-gire," one of only two surviving fragments from the Hitomaroshu, which is part of the Anthologies of Thirty-Six Poets, formerly owned by the Nishi-Honganji temple. The "Okadera-gire" is another rare, detached segment from Minamoto Shitagoshu of the same set. Both are excellent specimens of kana script in the early-12th Century.