ashide 葦手
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. reed-hand script. A decorative, pictorialized style of calligraphy, de 手, developed during the 9c in which cursive characters are disguised in the shape of reeds, ashi 葦, streams, rocks, flowers, birds, etc. A marsh scene with ashide characters was a motif frequently used in the under-drawings *shita-e 下絵, to decorate the paper of poetry anthologies and Buddhist scriptures or as the designs on textile and lacquer-ware. The term appears in literature from the 9c onward. In the late 10c, UTSUBO MONOGATARI 宇津保物語 (The Tale of The Hollow Tree), ashide is defined as one of several recognized forms of calligraphic script. Several extant examples of ashide date from the 12c. The decoration in underdrawing of 1160 in The Collection of Chinese and Japanese Poems for Singing WAKAN ROUEISHUU 和漢朗詠集 (Ministry of Cultural Affairs), with calligraphy written by Fujiwara no Koreyuki 藤原伊行, shows the fully developed stage of ashide. After the 13c, the term came to be applied loosely to mean: 1) a picture in which ashide characters were included; or 2) a type of pictorial puzzle or rebus using ashide letters and pictorial elements as clues to a poem *uta-e 歌絵. These representations are also called reed-hand-script paintings, ashide-e 葦手絵, and they were no longer limited to marsh landscapes. For example, decorative cursive characters are found in a tree in the late 13c illustrated handscroll of The Lord Takafusa's Love Songs Takafusakyou tsuyakotoba emaki 隆房卿艶詞絵巻 (National Museum of Japanese History, Chiba prefecture).


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