(Japan 1685 – 1768)
112.3 x 35.0 cm image; 198.0 x 47.0 x 51.4 cm scroll
The three inscriptions read:
Centre: The Shrine of Heaven illuminating great-august-God
Left: Kasuga, the great illuminating God
Right: Hachiman, the great Bodhisattva.
Hakuin is revered as one of the great teachers of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism and is particularly known for his bold and emphatic large characters which reveal great expressive power, reflecting the spontaneous and subjective aspirations that are at the heart of Zen philosophy. The harmony between the complementary ideologies of Buddhism and the native Shinto is perfectly illustrated in this calligraphy, with its synthesis of Buddhist and Shinto messages, written by a Buddhist monk. The central line refers to Amaterasu, the principal female deity of Shinto mythology, deified as the sun goddess. Kasuga is the patron deity of the most powerful clan in Heian Japan, the Fujiwara. Hachiman is another popular Shinto deity, the god of war, who protects warriors and was adopted as the patron god of the Minamoto clan. In this scroll Hakuin has given Hachiman the Buddhist title of Maha-Bodhisattva, the great being of wisdom.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 279.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 279 (colour illus.).