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Hotei

Kano Takanobu (Japanese, 1571–1618)

Calligrapher:
Tetsuzan Sōdon (Japanese, 1532–1617)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
dated 1616
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 27 1/2 x 15 in. (69.9 x 38.1 cm) Overall with mounting: 59 1/2 x 18 3/4 in. (151.1 x 47.6 cm) Overall with rollers: 59 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (151.1 x 52.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Funds from various donors, 2006
Accession Number:
2006.115
  • Description

    Hotei (Chinese: Budai), a popular figure in the Zen pantheon, is often depicted as a chubby, good-humored monk carrying a large sack. A semihistorical figure, he is believed to have lived in southern China in the late ninth century and was eventually recognized as a manifestation of Miroku (Sanskrit: Maitreya), the Buddha of the Future.

    The inscription is excerpted from a eulogy for Budai by the Song-dynasty Daoist master Bai Yuchan (1194–1229), who integrated Chan (Zen) teachings of enlightenment into his philosophy. The inscription was transcribed in bold, cursive, and highly expressive calligraphy by Tetsuzan Sōdon, a leading Zen monk-scholar who served as an abbot of Myōshinji in Kyoto. The inscription reads:

    Hotei’s sack encompasses the Great Emptiness.
    Holding a staff, he tramps around 3,000 worlds.
    Miroku claps his hands, and laughs—ha, ha!
    The bright moon shines, the wind disappears . . .

    The above poem is by the master
    of Sanyian Monastery,
    brushed by Tetsuzan Sōdonsai, aged 85,
    at Dairyū in Temple in Kyoto.

    —Trans. John T. Carpenter

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
73192:1

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