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Heian period (平安時代, へいあんじだい, 794 - 1185 C.E.)

A Period in Japanese history, significant in the development of Japanese calligraphy. The Heian era is also often referred to as the Japanese golden age, especially its early years. One of the throne successors - Emperor Saga (嵯峨天皇, さがてんのう, 786 – 842), who was the 52nd emperor, was a great admirer of calligraphy, devoting a lot of his time not only to copying manuscripts of sutras (写経, しゃきょう, i.e. “shakyō”), but also to studying Chinese poetry, and the styles of various masters. He also encouraged members of the imperial palace, including women, to study it as well. He allowed women to pursue calligraphy, which among other benefits eventually led to the development of the graceful style kana (かな) which further enriched and influenced Japanese calligraphy as an art.

During the later years of Heian era, Ono no Michikaze (小野道風, おの のみちかぜ 894 – 966, also known as Ono no Tōfū) introduced a fresh approach and first truly Japanese style, called 和様書道 (わよう しょどう, wayō shodō), at which point Japanese calligraphy was finally able to deviate from Chinese styles.

The concept of hanging scrolls (掛け軸, かけじく, kakejiku) was also introduced to Japan during that time.

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Page last modified on October 27, 2011, at 07:03 PM