Sotei Ibata – Calligrapher

Preparing the InkSotei Ibata - calligrapher
Another artist we visited in Kyoto was Sotei Ibata, a well-known calligrapher. He gave us a talk on the history of calligraphy, which was interpreted for us by Takako, one of our tour guides. The calligraphy originated in China. There are 5 levels or styles of calligraphy, but only 2 of the styles are used currently. The formation of the letters is very important. In 1898, the Major Restoration occurred, and more Western influence was felt. The West also found great beauty in the calligraphy. In 1932, Mr. Ibata met with Sam Francis and discussed calligraphy with him. In 1968, Mr. Ibata started demonstrations on the West Coast of the US.

Ibata and Tools of the TradeStriving to Achieve
Here is Mr. Ibata with some of his brushes. Notice the exceptionally large horse hair brushes. He uses these on the extremely large papers. The washi paper is made larger for the calligraphy work. The ink (nikowa) was originally made from animal hide and charcoal, but now Mr. Ibata buys it in a bottle. The size of the brush used is dependent on the weight of the paper. For our demo he used a sheep brush. He spends time thinking about the design and where the white of the paper will be. To mount the calligraphy onto the backing paper, he uses a rice paste.

I bought one of his calligraphies that has the symbol for “striving to achieve.” This seems to be a common theme in my life.

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