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Subject:Japanese scroll?
Posted By: Mark Tue, Nov 03, 2020 IP:

Hi all,

Could someone help me determine if these are Japanese or Chinese scrolls?

Are there certain details one can look at to make this difference? I'm not able to read Chinese/kanji, but can one for example also find differences in the way the symbols are written or in the way the red seals look etc.?

A Chinese friend of mine said that the actual meaning of the texts would be an important element, since certain sayings are typical Chinese and others typical Japanese. But, of course, many sayings or poems are well known in both countries, since both cultures are intertwined... So I guess it will almost be impossible to know for a person not being able to read one of both languages.

A brief translation of the scrolls would be much appreciated as well! :)

Thanks a lot for your time and help,


Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: I.Nagy Wed, Nov 04, 2020

Dear Mark,
I can see three pictures from the same Chinese scroll. On the scroll a typical Spring Festival Couplet is calligraphed,
Bold character in the middle,
福 - Fu - Good fortune, blessing, happiness
The couplet itself,
Thousands and ten thousands of springs, the house is full of spring
Five blessings and one hundred of blessings, all family blessing
Seal reads,
秦唐 - Qin Tang (Name of two dynasties) - Pseudonym

Unidentifiable calligrapher.

With regards,

Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: Mark Wed, Nov 04, 2020

Here are the other ones! :)

Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: I.Nagy Wed, Nov 04, 2020

Scroll No.1,
関 - Seki - Gate (in Zen/Chan Buddhism)
萬大志大廣史 - Mandaishi Daikōs-shi
(Mandaishi = Ten Thousand Aspirations - Art-name,
Daikō-shi - Buddhist monk's name)

Scroll No.2,
氷清玉潔 - Hyōsei-gyoketsu - Clean ice and pure jade
It is a Buddhist parable of the heart, that is that clean as clean ice and as pure as jade 
堂泉書 - Calligraphy of Dōsen (Art-name)

All the tree scrolls make me sure that they are not Chinese, but Japanese. Of course the mountings are typical Japanese. The Chinese couplet on the first scroll was a bit deceptive.
The seal on the first one reads in Japanese,
秦唐 - Shin Tō - (Names of the two dynasties read in Japanese) - Pseudonym

With regards,

Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: Mark Tue, Nov 10, 2020

Dear I.Nagy,

Thank you very much for your time and detailed information about these 3 scroll.

About the first one (with the dark blue background and spring couplet): Are you sure this is a Japanese scroll? Now I know what it says I was able to confirm that this is a typical (and still used) Chinese spring/New Years wish. Would the Japanese use this exact saying as well? Is it the seal that makes it Japanese?

And about the second one with the 関/Seki symbol: Do you know what this symbol/word stands for in Zen Buddhism? A gate to what?

And last: Sorry to bother you with one more scroll. Is it correct that this scroll says 道場 - dojo? Could you translate the signature/seal as well?

Thank you very much for all your help! :)

Kind regards,


Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: I.Nagy Wed, Nov 11, 2020

Dear Mark,
Here are the answers to your questions.

The spring festival couplet is typical Chinese thing. The Japanese do not write New Year's couplets, even if they undestand them. The practice of calligraphy is an another thing. The mounting at first appearance rather looks Japanese, but seemingly Chinese. The pseudonym seals denote two Chinese dynasty names.
In conclusion it can be said that it's Chinese,

The 関 "seki" or "kan" in the Zen Buddhist terminology has a meaning of "Gate to enlightenment"
Zen is written 禅 Chinese/Japanese.

Third scroll;
Inscription reads,
道場 - Dōjō - Training hall
紫野雪窓 - Murasakino Sessō
Upper seal,
龍寶山主 - Ryuhōzan-shu - Owner of *Ryuhōzan - Pseudonym
Lower seal,
宗甫  - Shuhō - First of the sect - Another pseudonym
Starting seal,
臨済正宗 - Rinzai Shōshu - True School of Rinzai Sect


Oda Sessō  小田雪窓 1901-1966
Rinzai sect priest.

Murasakino is the name of district in Kyōto where
the Daitokuji Temple is located.
Sessō at the age of 5 entered the Buddhist priesthood and received religious precepts as a Daitokuji School monk of Rinzai Sect. Later transferred to Myōshinji School. In 1943 was appointed as chief of Myōshinji Temple. In 1950 returned to to the Daitoku Temple and served as the 506th chief priest of that temple.
* Ryuhōzan (Mount of Dragon's Treasure) -
The full name of Daitokoji Temple is Ryuhōzan Daitokuji

With regards,

Subject:Re: Japanese scroll?
Posted By: Mark Thu, Nov 12, 2020

Thank you very much for all your help; truly wonderfull!

Kind regards,

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