Su Shi (Dongpo) in a Bamboo Hat and Clogs
Not on view
A lone figure wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sandals trudges through a murky landscape. Above, five prominent Japanese Zen monks from the monasteries in Kyoto have brushed poems in Chinese, celebrating China’s most famous literatus, Su Shi (1037–1101), here called by his sobriquet “Dongpo.” Su Shi and his writings were beloved in medieval Japan. The event recalled in the quickly brushed image and poems occurred when the aged scholar was in exile on the remote southern island of Hainan. Caught in a sudden downpour, he borrowed a peasant’s straw hat and clogs and continued on his way, while the villagers laughed at his outlandish appearance. The opening poem by Zuigan Ryūsei sets the scene.