Ota Nampo | Poem Calligraphy

Ota Nampo | Poem Calligraphy

SKU: 2436

Born to a modest samurai family in Edo, Ota Nampo received a Confucian education, and by his middle teens he had not only succeeded to his hereditary position as castle guard but also published a study of Ming-dynasty poetic terms. He continued his studies in Chinese literature all his life but became more famous for gesaku (writing for fun) under the name Shokusanjin. He especially enjoyed the humorous five-section kyoka (mad poem), which has the same 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure as waka but is satiric in content. Although Nampo gave up this form for a time when the government forbade samurai to attend kyoka parties, he remained the quintessential master of this genre, which required both with and erudition. (Stephen Addiss: 77 Dances, Japanese Calligraphy by Poets, Monks, and Scholars, 1568-1868, p.44.)


Both old 
And young
Have hearts like flowers -
In the residence of new plum,
And in the residence of old plum. 


The second poem written in smaller characters is about the three spirits of poetry, Sumiyoshi-gami, Tamatsushima-gami, Tenman-tenjin. 


Over and over
The three spirits of poetry
Appear in the twilight - 
On Akashi Bay, 
On Waka Bay.


Ota Nampo (1749-1823)
Ink on paper
23 x 66.7 cm (9 x 26 ¼ in.)
Mounting: 114 x 71 cm (44 ¾ x 28 in.)

Bachmann Eckenstein