Calligraphy is often regarded as the purest manifestation of an artist's inner character and level of cultivation, as well as the expression of his soul, thoughts and feelings. This volume presents some 58 Japanese works, almost all calligraphy, from the collection formed over the last 40 years of the 20th century by Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, literary scholars who became enraptured by the Japanese art of the brush. Spanning more than a thousand years from the Nara period (710-794) through to the 19th century, the material includes sublime early sutras, or transcriptions of the Buddha's discourses; an extraordinary mandala that is perhaps the finest example of its kind in the West; seminal works by such renowned figures as Myoe, Koetsu, Muso, Konoe and Daishin; letters and poems that illuminate courtly life; and powerful graphic statements by Zen monk-artists. The opening essay by Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, which is directed to a non-Japanese reader, offers a look at the ways in which Japanese calligraphy can be appreciated. Miyeko Murase's introduction provides a commentary on the Japanese calligraphic scripts and scribes and an overview of the society and world in which this art flourished.