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Matsuo Basho haiku scroll expected to make $22,000

Matsuo Basho handwrote the haiku scroll in the late 1600s

A haiku scroll by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is offered at Bonhams on May 12.

It's expected to realise around £12,000-15,000 ($17,414-21,768) in a sale of Japanese art in London.

Basho poem Bonhams
Basho wrote the poem on Mount Katsuragi 

The text dates to around 1688 and carries the title Preamble and poem on Mount Katsuragi. It was written on one of Basho's many jaunts around Japan.

It's presented in a wooden box, which is inscribed "Scroll brushed by the venerable Basho".

The poem reads, in translation: "Still, I would fain see / the god's face / in the dawning cherry blossoms".

In the Japanese Shinto tradition, Mount Katsuragi is home to a kami (a kind of elemental spirit) named Hitokotonushi no kami - the God of One Word.

The god's face is usually described as nightmarish, indicating just how agreeable Basho found the cherry blossoms.

This poem can also be found inscribed on a rock at the god's shrine on the mountain.  

It was first published in Basho's celebrated anthology Oi no kobumi (Notes from my Backpack).

Basho is considered among the greatest masters of the haiku form and is its most famous exponent in the west, where his work has been highly influential.

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Images: Bonhams

Last updated: 7 May 2016