From an early age Rengetsu showed talents for poetry and swordsmanship. She married young, but as her husband died in 1823, and her four children also died at young ages, she entered the Buddhist priesthood and adopted the name Rengetsu, meaning Lotus Moon. She dedicated the rest of her life to writing poetry and making pottery, known as Rengetsu ware. This poem reads:
'The evening is fragrant with plum blossoms
Oh, this fragrance!
It penetrates the black sleeves of my nun's habit
Even though I have renounced the world,
I enjoy dressing myself in this aromatic midnight scent.'
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 282.
Place where the work was made
hanging scroll; ink on paper
29.4 x 41.0 cm image; 114.8 x 50.0 x 56.5 cm scroll
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995
Black Robe, White Mist Otagaki Rengetsu, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 08 Sep 2007–27 Jan 2008
Beyond Words: Calligraphic Traditions of Asia:
Referenced in 4 publications
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 282 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 3 (illus.), 17.
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The aesthetic of transience', Sydney, 2003, 201 (colour illus.).
Black robe white mist: art of the Japanese Buddhist nun Rengetsu, Australia, 2007, 24 (colour illus.). cat.no.29