Saturday, May 8, 2010


The writing tradition in East Asia does not rely on the stylus —on the pen— but on the brush. This is most evident in the art form of calligraphy in China, Korea and Japan. This calligraphy, so different from the Western penmanship, acquires a quasi-religious meaning in Japan in the form of shodō —書道.

The name of this discipline involves the term –道: path, way; showing the constant struggle for perfection. Budō (武道), bushidō, (武士道), kadō (華道), sadō (茶道) … All of them imply that journey in search of excellence. Much in the mystic mode of Teresa of Ávila and her The Way of Perfection (Camino de perfección).

Religious superstitions aside, what we finally get is a form of art with a brush. And it is easy to get some samples of it in Japan. In most temples —Buddhist— and shrines —Shinto— you can find a monk in charge of these stamps to certify the passing through that station in the pilgrimage route.

These certificates are called goshuin –御朱印. Usually, they are a combination of a stamp and some writing. Sometimes they are great, impressive, amazing. The monk mastered his art and showed it. Some other times, the writing is plain and boring —anyone could write those. But such is life.

Buy the goshuin notebook (goshuin-chô, 御主印帳) in any stationery shop —check my May 2, 2010 entry— or at the temple itself, and ask for the stamp. Boring or exciting, the final collection will speak of your own .

(Sailor WG Pocket Pen – Pelikan Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Fuchu, April 7th 2010)
[labels: Japón, pincel]


anele said...

Son preciosas.
Los japoneses son tan concienzudos y le ponen tanto empeño a todo que sólo por eso ya es de agradecer.

Bruno Taut said...

Gracias por el comentario. Me alegra que te gusten... ¿el qué?


anele said...

¿el qué? Pues eso,algo tan tonto como una cartilla donde ir estampando sellos y a juzgar por las fotos, queda precioso.
Vamos, que yo no entiendo japonés pero en la foto se aprecia una caligrafía bastante armoniosa.
¿Tú has visto la letra de los funcionarios en España? Pues eso (ya dicen que las comparaciones son odiosas).

Como tú dices: a form of art with a brush.
Si yo te contara las barbaridades que leo a veces en el trabajo... que ya ni los médicos saben escribir.

Bruno Taut said...

Entendido. Pero estos monjes --y a veces, monjas-- no son funcionarios.

En España, de todos modos, la caligrafía hace ya muchos años que no se valora en absoluto. Pero de eso hablaré en otra ocasión.

Gracias de nuevo.


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