Religious Art and Meditative Contemplation in Japanese Calligraphy and Byzantine Iconography

Rodica Frentiu


Far Eastern calligraphy has always been regarded by the Occident as an "esoteric" issue, laden with a peculiar "mysticism," which presents spiritual and philosophical aspects too outlandish to truly comprehend. That is probably the reason why calligraphy was amongst the last artistic disciplines to gain access to the international world of the arts. This study focuses on Japanese calligraphy as a visual and verbal image, conducting a hermeneutic investigation into the nature and function of this type of image, into the value and significance of this way of representing the sacred in accordance with Japanese spirituality. Undertaking an unusual exploration, this research draws together the symbolism of calligraphic art and that of Byzantine icons, looking for similarities and differences between them, seeing them as intuitive gateways to the mysteries of the universe, to revelations of an ontologically superior nature.


Japanese calligraphy, Zen Buddhism, religious philosophy, contemplative meditation, Byzantine icons

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