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Subject:Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Wed, Jan 11, 2017 IP:

Hi, I posted this up about a month ago, but messed up posting the picture. I'm hoping that someone can help me read the signature (and maybe date) of the calligrapher on this hanging scroll. I'm told that the poem itself is by Ito Jinsai (1627 - 1705) but I don't believe that he is also the calligrapher.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on Ito Jinsai if any one is interested.

Thanks in advance,


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: rat Thu, Jan 12, 2017

The characters I can make out in the left column (likely artist's inscription) seem to read 藤維楨x, and the 維楨 are confirmed in the first seal, which reads 維楨之印. Which led me to this guy...

...whose standard script piece linked above has a similar but not identical seal. I am not confident that this is your guy, however, not least because the first character of this man's surname 伊藤 is missing from your inscription, and no artist ever signed only the second half of their surname to their work (i.e., there are no Picassos signed "asso")

So the link above is likely to a different calligrapher using the same go/pen name; do some further research to dis/confirm. Perhaps botan or someone else more familiar with this material will weigh in or offer a more accurate reading.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N. Sat, Jan 14, 2017

HI Rat,

Thanks for checking this out. I think that you are correct that the person you found is probably not the calligrapher, but maybe a good clue. I am amazed that you are able to read the calligraphy and determine the right characters.

Thanks again, Jim N.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: [email protected] Sat, Jan 14, 2017

'Koresada' 維楨 was the original name of Itô Jinsai (1627-1705), Japanese Confucian philosopher and educator.

Itô Jinsai's same seal figures on this document (see image).


URL Title :Itô Jinsai - Wikipedia

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Mon, Jan 16, 2017

Hi Guy and Rat,

Checking with a former student of my father, now a professor of Asian philosophy, I found out some more information. He tells me that the poem was not by Ito Jinsai, but by the Tang Dynasty poet Qian Qi. He is pretty certain that the calligraphy is by Ito Jinsai. The signature is Teng Weizhen, which was one of Ito Jinsai's pen names. The link that the two of you provided, although the names are different when I have google translate, goes to calligraphy that I believe is also by Ito Jinsai.

Its great to know the story behind this. Thanks much for your help.


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: rat Sun, Jan 22, 2017

Teng Weizhen is the Chinese reading for the top three characters of the signature column; you want the Japanese reading, which I think Guy provided above.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: mikeoz Mon, Jan 16, 2017

I think Rat found the same example as Guy, and his observation of the differences in the seal is highly pertinent and probably indicate that this is a poseur.

The key differences between the seals that I can see, even in the small image above, are in the last two characters. In the copy, (original posted example) the right hand descending line of the 之 character is shortened, and the upper line of the right hand element of 印 is horizontal, while the same line in the genuine seal has been carefully curved to echo the curved bottom line of the 之 character above.

These subtle differences often escape the knowledge or competence of the person faking the seal. The second point cannot be related to age damage as stone cannot be put back once it has been carved away.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Guy Tue, Jan 17, 2017

Rat and Mike,

I share your comments on the authenticity of Jim's document. Found some further images of specimen of this seal.

There are indeed slight differencies with Jinsai's original seal 'Koresada no in' (維禎之印 - Koresada'seal). So, Jim's document could well be a fake - or - eventually, the work of a later copyist, who had no direct intention to deceive.


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Wed, Jan 18, 2017

Mikeoz, Guy and Rat,

You all may very well be correct that this calligraphy is a “poseur”, but I want to offer a couple of thoughts.

I shared this post and your comments with my late father’s former student to get his take. When I started this post, I didn’t realize that he had studied and written about Ito Jinsai, otherwise I probably would have asked him about the scroll earlier. He tells me that Jinsai often signed his name with just 藤 and not 伊藤, which could explain the discrepancy that Rat pointed out. I don’t know much about seals, so I’ve learned quite a bit about how they are constructed from your comments. However, isn’t another explanation that Jinsai over the course of his life used more than one seal and they were not identical? Further what motivation would someone have to go to the trouble of copying Jinsai’s seal? His works may be rare, but I don’t believe that they were ever particularly valuable. This scroll sat on the top shelf of my father’s closet for 60 years, so someone would have had to have the incentive to copy it prior to the 1950’s.

Thanks for your comments on this and helping me learn more. I feel confident that both the work my father owned and the work on the internet are Ito Jinsai’s. And if I were to agree that one was real and the other is not (which I don’t), I’m not sure why we should assume that my father’s is the copy.

BR, Jim

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: John Rohrer Thu, Jan 19, 2017

I have been studying seals for many years. I
offer this image for comparison in this debate.
No conclusions, but side by side studies are
often valuable. I suspect that one of these seals
is original and the others copies.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Fri, Jan 20, 2017

Hi John,

Thanks for putting them all together. When looking at them side by side, it looks to me like there are three different seals. I see other differences besides the ones you noted.

Jinsai lived a long life and ran a school in Kyoto for over 40 years. He was also a scholar, not an artist. Isn't it pretty likely that over such a long life, he would have more than one seal? I don't have any idea what someone in 17th century Japan would do if they replaced or obtained an additional seal. Would they get one that "matched" or would they deliberately get one that was different? If it was the former, then all three of these could be Ito Jinsai's and all the works we have compared would be authentic. I know little about these things, but it seems like a reasonable possibility.


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: rat Sun, Jan 22, 2017

Jim, yes, artists and others had multiple seals, some very similar. It is also true that the unscrupulous have been making money from forgeries for many centuries, and that the fakes, both high quality and bad, far outnumber the number of genuine works. I am very much enjoying learning from the contributions of Mikeoz, Guy, John R, and the professor you know. Would be nice to persuasively confirm the scroll, as Ito seems to be a reasonably prominent philosopher, but we aren't there yet.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Tue, Jan 24, 2017

Hi Rat,
I'm learning about fakes. Here are a couple of pictures of a "Qiu Ying" that my father owned. I've read that there are lots of these fakes around

I would like determine whether or not the Ito Jinsai is genuine. Not quite sure how, but hopefully I'll figure out something. I have a some others that I would like to verify too.


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: rat Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Wish I could be of more help, but know very little about Japanese art.

You are right about this "Qiu Ying" though, it has almost relationship with Qiu's work. Mid 20th century? A bit earlier?

In any case, feel free to post the other works you are curious about, the group may be able to help

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Fri, Jan 27, 2017

Around 1950 or maybe a little bit earlier. It was purchased in Japan in 1955. Not a lot of wear and tear on it.

I'll post some pictures of other paintings I have questions about in a new stream.

Thx, Jim

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: John R Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Here's a link to a lecture given by
Stephen Little at the Minneapolis Institute
of Art last year. He describes the problems
in authenticating Chinese paintings. I was
able to attend this lecture and ask a question
at the end of it. He discusses works by Qiu Ying.

Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: Jim N Fri, Jan 27, 2017

Hi John,

Great information in the video. I learned about many more things than just "authenticity". For instance, now I know why my dad's Japanese paintings don't have many collector's seals on them, in fact, I thought that was an indication that they were fakes.

Thanks for sharing it.


Subject:Re: Help Identifing a Calligrapher
Posted By: rat Fri, Jan 27, 2017

Haha, that has to be you talking about the content of seal paste! right on | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |