Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Portrait of a Zen Master

Period:
Muromachi period (1392–1573)
Date:
15th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Lacquer on wood with inlaid crystal eyes
Dimensions:
Overall (figure): H. 37 3/8 (94.9 cm); W. 22 3/8 in. (56.8 cm); D. 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, John D. Rockefeller 3rd Gift, 1963
Accession Number:
63.65
Not on view
The intense presence of a Zen master is achieved here by a focus on realism in the face, while the body, with its heavy robes flowing over the chair, is more conventionalized. Sculpted portraits were frequently venerated in the living quarters of Zen temples. There, they provided a physical reminder of the deceased founder, who, in an unbroken chain of transmission from master to disciple, represented the crucial link between his disciples and the lineage that descended from the historical Buddha. This notion of teaching "from heart to heart" without the aid of sutras is central to Zen and made such portraits more important than icons of Buddhist deities.
#8860. Portrait of a Zen Master
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For Audio Guide tours and information, visit metmuseum.org/audioguide.
Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Treasures of the Metropolitan- Curator's Choice," October 23, 1970–January 3, 1971.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1995.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art, Part II," May 1, 1996–September 8, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human and Not-So-Human Figure in Japanese Art," 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Resonant Image: Tradition in Japanese Art (Part Two)," April 27, 1998–September 27, 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art in Early Japan," 1999–2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Blossoms of Many Colors: A Selection from the Permanent Collection of Japanese Art," March 21, 2000–August 9, 2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," August 19, 2000–February 5, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Enlightening Pursuits," February 28, 2001–August 5, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: A Decade of Collecting Japanese Art," September 29, 2001–March 10, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sense of Place: Landscape in Japanese Art," May 8, 2002–September 8, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22, 2003–September 21, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14, 2004–June 13, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tribute to a Dedicated Collector: Mary Griggs Burke," June 30, 2004–November 29, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," July 2, 2005–November 29, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Spring and Summer," December 17, 2005–June 4, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.

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