REKIHAKU 20th Anniversary Exhibition Ancient Japanese writing symbols From the Golden Stamp to Documents through the Shoso-in

REKIHAKU 20th Anniversary Exhibition Ancient Japanese writing symbols From the Golden Stamp to Documents through the Shoso-in

  • To explain the process of how Japan, which had no written language, received written characters from China and how it was possible for Japan to produce its own system of writing while under the strong influence of ancient Korea. At the start of the 8th century, that foreign influence planted the seed for Japanese works such as Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, Man’yoshu and the “world of documents through the Shoso-in”. Documents from the Shoso-in are indispensable, preliminary research materials for the research of ancient history that is japanese. However, they have been only displayed to the public on special occasions. You will find few examples in the wonderful world of a huge collection of 1,200-year-old writings preserved in good shape. For this reason we are taking on the duty of reproducing in finest detail about 800 regarding the Shoso-in documents as you associated with the main project in the main collection. About 250 scrolls have now been produced. Into the main exhibition we will display a small grouping of enlarged reproductions.
  • It is thought that in ancient Japan, written characters played a big role that is social an instrument of government and also as items that held mystical capacity to an extent that has been not present in later eras. Using specific examples from the standpoint of “writing, people, and locations”, you want to illustrate the world that is unique of characters – the ecology of written characters – of ancient Japan, which differs from China, in which the characters originated.
  • This exhibition wish to expand on a premise through the perspective that ancient Japanese society already contained a thorough “characterless world” together with formed its own unique culture of written characters.

  • Due to the discovery of enormous amounts of archeological materials with written characters in the past few years, the problem regarding the ancient written culture common to both Japan and Korea has, in particular, become extremely clear. The season of this exhibition is 2002 (Heisei 14), per year that needs to be commemorated for the achievement of great progress in the close relationship between Japan and South Korea. Fortunately, as a result of full cooperation from various Korean organizations, we have been able to borrow some of Korea’s major ancient written materials. This is actually the first public open exhibition of ancient written materials found in Korea to be displayed in Japan. We desire to compare them to Japanese materials.
  • Writing (kanji characters) originating from China and spread throughout East Asia, where it long reigned as an international writing system. However, in Vietnam and Korea today, writing is especially in indigenous scripts. Except for China itself, the actual only real other culture using Chinese characters continuing into the current day is Japan, which in the beginning began writing in a mixture of Chinese and native characters

    However, it cannot be said that the continuing future of the culture of Chinese characters in Japan is secure. In considering the written culture of the century that is 21st it is necessary to totally reconsider what writing was at ancient society.

    Therefore, this exhibition focuses on reproductions of about 100 scrolls associated with the Shoso-in documents, artifacts from archeological digs such as for example letters on lacquer lid paper, wooden tablets, and earthenware with ink writings from around the nation, and also epigraphs and materials related to writing as a result as implements. And we will combine ancient materials that are written China and Korea to recreate the world of writing in ancient Japan. By looking at writing in these ways, we desire to paint an picture that is accurate of society.

    Exhibited Items

    1. From the period when writing came to the Japanese Archipelago

    1. Written materials from China (reproduction of the golden seal of “Kan no wa no na no koku ou”, reproduction of inscribed mirror from Keisho 3 from excavations during the Kanbara Jinja burial mound in Shimane Prefecture)
    2. Expressions in sound and pictures (bronze bell reproduction as well as other items)
    3. Characters written through the second to fourth centuries in the united states of Wa (archeological finds from Oshiro Ruins in Mie Prefecture such as for instance “Hou” (meaning “offering”), “Kou” (meaning “good fortune”) along with other items)

    2. Written culture in ancient Korea

    (reproductions of an inscribed curved long sword (kanto tachi) with single dragon pattern,Josan-Sanjo wooden tablet, Gan’ouchi Pond wooden tablet, Geinichi-Reisuiri monument, and other items)

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