Honamigire is a nickname for the manuscript of "Kokin Wakashu" (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry), which is assumed to have been transcribed at the beginning of the twelfth century.
From olden times, it has been considered that ONO no Tofu transcribed it, but in the light of the style of calligraphy and writing paper, it seems to have been made during the rule by the retired Emperors, two centuries later than Tofu's time
The name 'Honamigiri' was derived from the fact that Koetsu HONAMI, a calligrapher who lived at the beginning of the early-modern times, treasured a part of the manuscript. As well as Koya-gire (fragments of the Kokin Wakashu), it is a valuable old manuscript of "Kokin Wakashu" which was made during the Heian period, and an important work in the history of calligraphy. Kire' (literally "cut") originally referred to hanging scrolls or other items of appreciation which were made from the manuscript collections of waka poetry or Chinese poetry in the shape of a book or a scroll, after cutting them out.
It was originally in the shape of Kansubon (book in scroll style), and seems to have contained the first to the twentieth volumes of "Kokin Wakashu" including the 'Preface,' but now only the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth volumes are exist.
The writing paper was imported from China during or before the Muromachi period, and 'gubiki' was done on the paper with white, hanada (light indigo blue), and filemot, then the paper was patterned with intertwined foliage, cranes flying in the clouds, and oleanders using mica powders.
('Gubiki' is 'brush dyeing' with Chinese white (ground oyster shell) or a mixture of pigments and white.)
The existing Honamigire "Kokin Wakashu" contains only reikan (incomplete set of scrolls) and dankan (fragmentary leaves of a book), so the complete original book does not remain. The Kyoto National Museum owns the twelfth volume of reikan (National Treasure), and Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections) owns reikan (an old Imperial property) which consists of most of the sixteenth volume and a part of the seventeenth volume. Takashi MASUDA, a businessman and a famous collector of antiques, once owned reikan which consisted of parts of the tenth and eleventh volumes, but these volumes were later divided.
Style of calligraphy
The style of calligraphy of Honamigire belongs to a different lineage from that of Koyagire (a manuscript of "Kokin Wakashu" transcribed in the eleventh century), considered a supreme achievement of kana calligraphy made during the Heian period, and there are no relics left with the same handwriting. Honamigire is a small work whose length is 16.7 cm, so the size of characters are naturally small too, but the brush strokes are powerful and rhythmical.