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Kamakura period (鎌倉時代, かまくらじだい, 1185–1333 C.E.)

During the Kamakura period calligraphy is greatly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, and especially Zen Buddhism. The first school of Zen Buddhism on Japanese soil was Rinzai (臨剤, りんざい), founded in the 12th century C.E. It was the Japanese line of the Chinese 臨濟 (Lín jì) school which originated during the Tang dynasty (唐朝, 618 – 907 C.E.) by 臨濟義玄 (Chinese: Línjì Yìxuán, died 866 C.E.). The Rinzai School still exists in modern Japan, with 15 branches. Its influence over the military and culture (including calligraphy) throughout the Kamakura and later periods was remarkable.

Possibly the most renowned Rinzai Zen monk was 夢窓疎石(むそう そせき, Musō Soseki), who lived in 13th and 14th century. He contributed greatly to developing the wayō style of calligraphy (和様書道, わよう しょどう, wayō shodō) by leaving behind marvellous works, such as 夢中問答集 (むちゅう もんどう しゅう, Muchū mondō-shū, lit. “questions and answers during a trance-like state”, or simply, “dream conversations”).

Another great poet artist and calligrapher of the Muromachi period was 藤原定家 (ふじわら の ていか, Fujiwara no Teika, 1162 - 1241), a member of the renowned Fujiwara clan. He was extremely creative and left countless 和歌 (わか, waka, lit. "Japanese poems") for later generations. In Chinese terms his poetry could be compared with this of 李白 (Lǐ Bái, 701 – 762), their cultural equivalent of Shakespeare. Teika’s calligraphy was eccentric, perhaps even childish at times, yet very powerful in its chaotic and abstract form. Followers have named a style after him: 定家流 (ていかりゅう, teika ryū, i.e. “the Teika method”).

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Page last modified on October 27, 2011, at 07:23 PM