Iyashiku mo tsune areba
hisashi hisashikereba onozu kara yoi kaori wo harau
If you perservere (with proper living), the years will grant you success. This was a famous last line from a treatise written by revered Han Dynasty scholar Cui Yuan (Cui Ziyu, 78–143). These same words were famously written by Kukai (Kobodaishi 774-835) the founder of Shingon escoteric Buddhism in Japan. The calligraphic style appears to be taken directly from the Saishigyoku Zayumei, written by Kukai, owned by the Masuda clan (now with Mt. Koya). Red over black lacquer on wood it is 11 x 69 x 3/4 inches (28 x 176 x 2 cm) and is in overall fine condition, with wear to the lacquer accenting the age. This is called a hashira-kake among other terms. It would have been possibly hung on a post in a temple or in an entrance hall (perhaps a Terakoya or Juku (School) or Confucian or Taoist institution or a public building, a reminder to people entering of some famous verse which would bring them into the correct frame of mind. Much like a scroll in a tea room, or a calligraphy screen in a zen monastery. It is in very good condition for something which has been exposed for centuries. There is enough wear to the lacquer to allow the black through in some places, accentuating the Negoro process, but not too much to be called damage.
The poem, written in 100 characters can be roughly translated to: Don't talk about the shortcomings of others, don't boast about your strengths. Do not gloat your goodnesses and don't forget the grace of others. Praise of the world is not worthy of envy, Choose benevolence as your code of conduct. Act after due consideration. Pay no attention to the ill spoken of you and speak no ill of others. Don't overrate your accomplishments, but consider yourself a fool as the saints did. Do not allow yourself to be sullied by the world. Although the outer surface is dull, maintain your inner light. Lao Tzu once warned that weakness is a manifestation of strength. Strength lies in humility, live simple and your possibilities will grow. The sage must be cautious in diet, drink and desire. Follow Faithfully These Tenets and you will Reap Sweet Scents Throughout your Years.
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For a complete translation with original script please contact me.