Bodhidharma Crossing the Yangzi River on a Reed

Kano Genshun 狩野元俊 Japanese
Inscription by Gyokushitsu Sōhaku Japanese

Not on view

Bodhidharma (Japanese: Daruma) was a sixth-century Indian sage who is credited with transmitting Zen Buddhist teachings to China. After an unsuccessful encounter with the Chinese Liang-dynasty Emperor Wu, Bodhidharma is said to have sailed up the Yangzi River on a single reed to continue his journey to promote Zen. Executed in an abbreviated style using only a few long, flowing strokes to define the sage’s robes, this work reflects an ink-painting style that was introduced from China in the late Kamakura period (1185–1333). The colophon above the figure, composed and inscribed by the noted Zen monk Gyokushitsu Sōhaku, reads:

Lightly sailing on a single reed,
He is majestic and commanding.
Far from Liang territory,
Ah, what does he recall?

Although this painting was previously attributed to the Momoyama-period artist Kano Sōshū (1551–1601), a reevaluation of the seal impressed at lower right has revealed the artist to be Kano Genshun (also called Hayato), a Kano painter of the early Edo period and first head of the minor Yamashita Kano studio.

Bodhidharma Crossing the Yangzi River on a Reed, Kano Genshun 狩野元俊 (Japanese, 1588–1672), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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