Jizō Bosatsu Playing a Flute

Kano Tan'yū Japanese

Not on view

This elegant vision of the bodhisattva Jizō Bosatsu (Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha) playing a flute is a rare and innovative portrayal that may have been created by Kano Tan’yū himself, who, as head of the Shogun’s painting academy (edokoro), was familiar with most of the ancient paintings that had survived to his day. The few similar paintings known of a flute-playing Jizō are by Tan’yū or his followers. The gentle, boyish figure, dancing, playing a flute, and wearing both the traditional monk’s robe and the flowing scarves and jewels of a bodhisattva, combines several aspects of Jizō’s traditional iconography. Instead of lotus petals, he wears a huge, overturned lotus leaf upon his head. His monk’s staff and sacred wish-granting jewel have been replaced by a phoenix-headed flute.

Jizō Bosatsu Playing a Flute, Kano Tan'yū (Japanese, 1602–1674), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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