Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

南宋 傳直翁 藥山李翱問道圖 軸
Meeting between Yaoshan and Li Ao

Artist:
Attributed to Zhiweng (Chinese, active first half of the 13th century)
Period:
Song dynasty (960–1279)
Date:
before 1256
Culture:
China
Medium:
Horizontal painting mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 12 1/2 x 33 1/4 in. (31.8 x 84.5 cm) Overall with mounting: 49 1/8 x 34 in. (124.8 x 86.4 cm) Overall with knobs: 49 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. (124.8 x 92.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1982
Accession Number:
1982.2.1
Not on view
This painting was inscribed by the Chan (Zen) Buddhist priest Yanxi Guangwen between 1254 and 1256, while he was abbot of Lingyin temple in Hangzhou. The work is an important example of early Chan Buddhist "apparition" painting, so called for its pale, sensitive brushwork.

Depicted here is a famous encounter between the Confucian scholar Li Ao (active ca. 840) and the Chan master Yaoshan. Having heard of the master's reputation, the scholar went to see him but was disappointed and remarked: "Seeing your face is not as good as hearing your name." The master replied: "Would you distrust your eye and value your ear?" Then, pointing up and down, the master indicated that the ultimate reality is in what can be seen, such as "clouds in the sky and water in a vase."

Yanxi Guangwen's inscription on the painting reads:

All moments of enlightenment come in a flash,
Why distrust your eye and value your ear?
Just as between the water and the clouds,
Do not say there is nothing there.

Just as the Chan master used riddles to sharpen the student's perception in spite of distracting hearsay, the Chan painter used a simple and spontaneous, albeit elusive, brush style to capture his fleeting vision of truth.
Inscription: No artist’s inscription, signature, or seal

Other inscription

Yanxi Guangwen 偃溪廣聞 (1189–1263), 8 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

All moments of enlightenment come in a flash;
Why distrust your eye and value your ear?
Just as between the water and the clouds,
Don’t say there is nothing there.[1]
???? [Seals]: Guangwen yinzhang, Yanxi

全機劈面來,賤目而貴耳。
便是水雲間,莫道無餘事。
住冷泉囗囗 [印]: 廣聞印章、偃溪

[1] Translation from Maxwell K. Hearn, How to Read Chinese Paintings. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008, cat. no. 13, p. 66.
Related Objects

Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru

Artist: Huang Tingjian (Chinese, 1045–1105) Date: ca. 1095 Medium: Handscroll; ink on paper Accession: 1989.363.4 On view in:Gallery 210

Wang Xizhi watching geese

Artist: Qian Xuan (Chinese, ca. 1235–before 1307) Date: ca. 1295 Medium: Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper Accession: 1973.120.6 On view in:Gallery 213

Old Trees, Level Distance

Artist: Guo Xi (Chinese, ca. 1000–ca. 1090) Date: ca. 1080 Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 1981.276 On view in:Gallery 210

Finches and bamboo

Artist: Emperor Huizong (Chinese, 1082–1135; r. 1100–25) Date: early 12th century Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 1981.278 On view in:Gallery 210

Woods and Valleys of Mount Yu

Artist: Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374) Date: dated 1372 Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 1973.120.8 On view in:Gallery 213