To the visitors at the Exhibition

On calligraphy and characters

Although I have only little idea about how much knowledge you, visitors to this exhibition, have about Chinese characters which we brought in to be an essential part of our culture around two thousand years ago from ancient China and new letters we uniquely produced out of the original ones, what I would like to emphasis about Chinese characters is that each character has not only “sound” but also “meaning”.

Therefore, as the Chinese characters spread images as well, we people in the orient who use them in daily life enjoy having fantasies about future happiness and prosperity of our children when we name them, thinking a lot about this “meaning” the Chinese characters provide.

And here, a question about how the ancient people created these characters and what kind of emotions they used to have came to me who continued practicing calligraphy since early childhood.

The most common theory is characters and (spoken) languages were originally tools or cornerstones for praying. Assumedly, ancient people would possess much sharper, stronger and more abundant sensitivity towards nature and spirituality than we people living in present time.

Thus, they must have thought that words and letters would bring them delight, and tried to guard the people important to them from the evil powers of the characters, or crossly, they even tried to curse their enemies using words and characters.

Well-known examples for noted above would be: Being careful not to use foul languages to prevent badness from happening and addressing someone just in front of you as “anata” meaning “somewhere far away” to guard them from the curse of language by pretending the conversational partner being far away form you.

When I declare “My hobby is calligraphy!”, from time to time, I get reactions such as, “Why don’t you draw or paint? Writing mere letters wouldn’t be very interesting. Painting beautiful flowers, sceneries or women would be more enjoyable, wouldn’t it?”

And the very answer to those questions would be the sublimed art growing from the sense of awe and even affection to the characters, letters and words of the ancient people.

Dear visitors to this exhibition, I here yearn for your appreciation of the works displayed in the venue with thoughts about how we consider “practice of writing” itself be noble and sacred, and not just a thought “Oh, I see numerous unfamiliar lines and forms.”

Kyoto, October 2017

Tomoko Minami

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「書道が趣味です!」と言うと、ときとして「どうして絵画でないの? 字なんか書いてもつまらないのに。綺麗なお花や風景や女の人を描いた方がいいのでは?」という反応が返ってくることがあります。