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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oldest Example of Complete Katakana Script Found on Plate in Kyoto

Kyoto-Digいろは歌、最古の「全文」土器の墨書確認 中京・堀河院跡

The Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute on Friday announced that an artefact dug up in 1983 was discovered on reexamination to have nearly all of the hiragana characters written on it.

The small plate was discovered in the grounds of the ANA Crown Plaza Hotel thirty years ago at the ruins of the Horikawa Imperial Palace. That is across the street from Nijo Castle.

The piece dates from the end of the 12th century to the early part of the 13th century. On it is penned in charcoal the poem known as Iroha, which is thought to have been written in the Heian Period (794–1179 CE).

This makes it the oldest extant example of hiragana.

The plate is 9 cm in diameter and 1.5 cm tall. There are 47 characters on the plate.

It will be on display at the Kyoto City Archaeological Museum from June 29 until July 28.

Photo©Kyoto Shinbun


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