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More than Words: The Art of Calligraphy across Asia

Spanning Armenia to Japan and drawing on the Nelson-Atkins and a small number of private collections, this exhibition explores the roles and aesthetic qualities of writing in Asia from 4 BCE to the present. The installation will introduce calligraphy and how it is made, and then will present four thematic sections:

  • Faith and Knowledge, including sacred writing from Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian traditions
  • Word, Image and Poetry, including examples of writing combined with illumination and illustration and calligraphic transcriptions of poems
  • Word and Authority, demonstrating how calligraphy and writing transmit power and authority

Writing from different traditions will be juxtaposed to illuminate similarities and/or also contrasting styles. Contemporary works will demonstrate the innovative way calligraphy is used by artists today.

Japanese Writing Box
Writing Box, Japanese, Muromachi Period (1392-1568). Lacquer with makie, 3 5/8 x 3 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 64-24 A-I.