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Page from the Ishiyama-gire (dispersed volumes of the Anthology of the Thirty-Six Poets) Poet: Ki no Tsurayuki
early 12th century


Heian period

Album leaf; ink on assembled dyed paper decorated with silver and gold
H: 21.2 W: 16.1 cm
Japan

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Two poems of mourning for a friend who has died are written in the elegant Japanese phonetic script known as hiragana. The papers of three colors are joined at the edges and embellished in silver with scattered plants and insects. This page belongs to one of the dispersed volumes called "Ishiyama-gire" from a lavishly decorated Anthology of Thirty-Six Poets. These two verses were composed by Ki no Tsurayuki (872?-ca. 946). Beginning from the right, in three lines, the first poem reads: "A beloved friend whom I met until yesterday is gone today, swept away like mountain clouds." The following verse continues the thought: "How tragic that although we live, whatever we have will surely die."