芦葉達磨図 Bodhidharma Crossing the Yangzi River on a Reed
Kano Sōshū (Japanese, 1551–1601)
Momoyama period (1573–1615)
late 16th century
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 31 3/4 x 12 3/4 in. (80.6 x 32.4 cm)
Overall with mounting: 64 x 17 1/2 in. (162.6 x 44.5 cm)
Overall with knobs: 64 x 19 1/4 in. (162.6 x 48.9 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2007
Not on view
The heavily bearded man with large eyes is Bodhidharma (Japanese: Daruma), an Indian sage, who, according to a legend of long standing, sailed up the Yangzi River on a reed to found Chan (Japanese: Zen) Buddhism in China.
Executed in an abbreviated style with only a few long, flowing calligraphic strokes, this ink monochrome painting echoes the style that was extremely popular during the Muromachi period (1392–1573). This style also succinctly expresses the essence of the Zen spirit that contends, “less is more.” The colophon above the painting, composed and inscribed by the noted Zen monk Gyokushitsu Sōhaku (1572–1641), reads:
Lightly sailing on a single reed, He is majestic and commanding. Far away from the land in the south, Ah, what does he recall?
Signature: 玉室 宗珀 秀信 (季信 ?)
Inscription: Lightly sailing on a single reed,
He is majestic and commanding.
Far away from the land in the south,
Ah, what does he recall?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Flowing Streams: Scenes from Japanese Arts and Life," December 21, 2006–June 3, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.