Scholar Spotlight: Drawing with Words

Almost everyone is familiar with those clever little icons known as emoji. Yet, few are aware of their pre-modern Japanese origins — mojie (calligrams).

The relationship between images and text has always played an important role in Japanese visual and textual culture. Calligrams—or the creative arrangements of words and sentences into patterns—are arguably one of the most idiosyncratic examples. Individual characters could be shaped to resemble birds or flowers, while longer texts such as poems and sutras could be fashioned into a vast range of elaborate designs.

Over the centuries, skilled calligraphers, witty writers and ingenious artists experimented with this form of art. Looking at selected examples taken from manuscripts, ukiyo-e prints, and woodblock-printed books, Freer|Sackler researcher Dr. Alessandro Bianchi takes us on a journey to discuss the origin and development of this distinctive form of Japanese textual art.

**PLEASE NOTE** Doors open at 5:30 PM and will close once seating is full or promptly at 6:30 PM. Lecture begins at 6:00 PM.
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