Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What to do with your worn out but treasured Japanese poetry anthology scroll

Chop off the good bits and hang them on the wall. This was once a piece of a long scroll dating from the 16th century, and is now a wall-hanging.

It is still hard for me to comprehend that those few characters to the left and right of the deer make an entire poem.

Click the picture for a better view. I didn't say great, I said better.


  1. Beautiful pictures! Your comment makes me think of the times when I've seen books displayed in museum cases. You can read (or look at) two pages and that's it. Some museums turn the pages every few months, but even so, it's a sorry way to treat a book.

    In the case of this scroll, though, I wonder how it was meant to be read. The other scroll you photographed seemed excessively elegant for everyday reading. This one seems gigantic. Did the owners read these things themselves? Or did they have some hired scholar or entertainer do the reading aloud? I have no idea.

  2. Such a puzzle, isn't it, given that the poems are all so tiny. Was the scroll left on display, as it is now? Was it rolled up and then unrolled, all 17 meters of it, to find a specific poem? Maybe only brought out on holidays?