When brushing a calligraphy piece, every stroke is executed with one single movement. We don’t go back or make corrections afterwards.. But is this always the case?
Translated from here
Translated by Judit Simon
We might come across videos on the internet where we can actually see the the master going back to certain strokes to correct or modify them. This is the so-called yose moji (寄席文字) style.
Yose moji belongs to the edo moji (江戸文字) writing style that evolved during the Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai, A.D. 1603-1868) and comprises several related calligraphy styles. These are: Shibai moji (芝居文字), Yose moji (寄席文字), Kago moji (籠文字), Hige moji (髭文字), Sumōji (相撲字), Chōchin moji (提灯文字), Kakuji (角字).
(see these styles in thie above order in the picture)
These calligraphy styles are characterised by broad, thick strokes which leave only a little space for whites to appear. This symbolizes the packed auditorium with the audience sitting tightly in rows. What is the idea behind this symbolic meaning?
Yose moji is originally the style in which the posters of the rakugo (落語) theatre were made. Rakugo is typically a story-telling type of theatre where funny skits follow each other, much like in a stand-up comedy show. So a performance is really a series of short, usually fifteen-minute-long performances that go on for hours, with different actors performing their own piece. Everyone has their own music, style and circle of fans. Rakugo theatres are traditionally run by families.
Yose moji is the style in which the program boards are written where the rakugo itself is written in black and the other programmes, like a cabaret piece or an artist act are in red (see picture down below). During each performance the name of the performer appears on a board on stage. Yose moji can also appear in modern typography or on signboards, clothes and it is frequently used in computer design, too.
Yose moji is a very dynamic style for which a thick, short-haired brush is used. There is little white left amidst the strokes and the master can go back to certain strokes to add more ink or make corrections until the character becomes a harmonious whole. There are no waning lines and sometimes one stroke is put together from several little pieces. Most challenging are the simple characters but on the whole it can be said that the brushing of each kanji needs careful planning. This style is more like “letter-planning” or typography than calligraphy.
The two pictures below show how this style can be applied.
Finally let’s take a look at the yose moji style of the kanji (家), meaning “home” and “family”. (source: yosemoji-tujihana.seesaa.net where many more examples of yose moji can be found)