National TreasureFragment from the Ranshi Edition of Man'yoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), Volume 9

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  • Height 26.7cm Width 1133.0cm
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • B甲597

This early copy of the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves (J. Man'yôshô) is called the Ranshi or indigo-paper version because it was written on paper dyed with indigo. The entire surface of the paper was further decorated with silver leaf. According to the postscripts in the second and seventh volumes, the Ranshi version can be reliably attributed to Fujiwara Korefusa (1030-96), the grandson of the famed calligrapher Fujiwara Yukinari (972-1027). Korefusa was known for his rapid writing style, and judging from the postscript in the first volume that states, I began writing this on the seventeenth day of the ninth month and finished on the twentieth day, he completed the work in only four days. His calligraphy in the copy reflects the fast pace at which he customarily wrote and reveals a masculine style that is atypical of the period.
The Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves was compiled in the Nara period (710-794), making it the oldest poetry anthology in Japan. While more than thirty versions of the collection are said to have been in existence at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), today only five from that time remain. In addition to the Ranshi version, there are the Katsuramiya, Genryaku, Tenji, and Kanazawa versions. These invaluable early manuscripts are collectively referred to as the Five Great Manyôshô Texts.