Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) Late 18th/early 19th century
Lot 429*
Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) Late 18th/early 19th century
Sold for £5,625 (US$ 9,109) inc. premium

Lot Details
Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) Late 18th/early 19th century Sengai Gibon (1750-1837) Late 18th/early 19th century
Sengai Gibon (1750-1837)
Late 18th/early 19th century
Kakejiku, in sumi on paper, painted with a typical portrayal of the deified Sugawara no Michizane as a bearded tenjin going abroad to China, standing in Chinese robes and wearing a stylised scholar's cap, holding a flowering plum branch, with an inscription above (roughly translating: the fragrance of a plum branch in the sleeve of the Lord, reaches even to China when the Spring wind blows); signed Gai [...] with seal; with wood storage box. 83.5cm x 23.3cm (32 7/8in x 9 1/8in). (2).

Footnotes

  • 渡唐天神図 仙厓義梵筆 一幅 紙本墨画 18世紀後期/19世紀前期

    Sengai was a Japanese monk of the Rinzai School (one of the three main schools of Zen Buddhism in Japan). Born in Mito, he entered the Seitai-ji at the age of eleven. After eight years, he went to Toki-an near present-day Yokohama and studied with the Zen Master Gessen Zenji for thirteen years before being invited to the Shofuku-ji in Fukuoka, where he became the 123rd abbot and remained so for the remainder of his life.

    Although the Rinzai sect is known for its complex teachings, Sengai tried to make them accessible to the public. His subject matter which included folklore, religious themes, landscapes, animals, plants is all executed in ink alone with quick, spontaneous and often wild brush strokes.

    The theme presented here, Toto Tenjin (Tenjin's Crossing to China) alludes to the legend of the exiled Heian Period statesman Sugawara Michizane (845-903) travelling to China in order to undergo Zen training. The plum was supposedly Michizane's favourite flower and he is often represented with a spray of blossoming prunus.

    This portrait was also a popular theme among Zen painters. For another very similar painting by the artist, see the Exhibition Catalogue, SENGAI - Masterpieces of Zen Paintings from the Idemitsu Collection), Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, 2007, p.70, pl.45. Sengai's most famous painting depicting overlapping a circle, a square and a triangle is also in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo.
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