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

烏丸光広筆 十牛図歌賛図巻
Ten Oxherding Songs

Artist:
Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (Japanese, 1579–1638)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
ca. 1634
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Handscroll; ink on dyed paper with stenciled decoration in gold and silver
Dimensions:
11 3/4 x 107 in. (29.9 x 271.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.142
Not on view
Ten waka (poems of thirty-one syllables) describing the various stages of spiritual awareness, from the initial search to final realization, are couched in the classic Zen parable Ten Ox-Herding Songs, which likens this vigorous human quest to the often comic vicissitudes of a herdboy in pursuit of an elusive ox. The courtier-calligrapher Karasumaru Mitsuhiro rendered the Zen theme in a style that reflects the aristocratic tradition of personally expressive writing on decorated paper.

The poems, Mitsuhiro’s own, are based on a set by a fifteenth-century monk at Tōfukuji, an important Zen temple in Kyoto. Following a common literary practice, Mitsuhiro personalized the poems by making slight changes to their wording, each change alluding to classical sources. Mitsuhiro also subtly altered the standard sequence of accompanying pictures. The style of the calligraphy is influenced by that of Mitsuhiro’s teacher, Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), who with Mitsuhiro was instrumental in reviving the aesthetics of Heian-period (794–1185) art in the early seventeenth century.

Mitsuhiro was a major figure in the circle of the politically enfeebled but artistically influential Emperor Go-Mi zunō-ō (1596–1680).
Related Objects

“Peaceful Practices,” Chapter 14 of the Lotus Sutra (Myōhōrenge-kyō, or Hoke-kyō)

Date: ca. 1667 Medium: Two handscrolls; gold, silver on indigo-dyed paper Accession: 2015.300.5a, b On view in:Gallery 224

Ten Verses on Oxherding

Date: 1278 Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on paper Accession: 2015.300.10 On view in:Gallery 224

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

Three Gods of Good Fortune Visit the Yoshiwara; or “Scenes of Pleasure at the Height of Spring”

Artist: Chōbunsai Eishi (Japanese, 1756–1829) Date: early 19th century Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 2015.300.145 On view in:Gallery 231

Two Poems from One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets (Ogura hyakunin isshu)

Artist: Hon'ami Kōetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637) Date: ca. 1615–20 Medium: Section of scroll; ink, silver, and gold on paper Accession: 2015.300.86 On view in:Gallery 228