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Calligraphy: "The Shrine of the heaven illuminating great-august-god [centre]; Hachiman, the great Bodhisattva [right]; Kasuga, the great illuminating god [left]"

18th century


Hakuin Ekaku


1685 – 1768

  • Details

    Alternative title
    Amaterasu Kôtaijingû [centre]; Hachiman Daibosatsu [right]; Kasuga Daimyôjin [left]
    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    18th century
    Media categories
    Scroll , Calligraphy
    Materials used
    hanging scroll; ink on silk
    112.3 x 35.0 cm image; 198.0 x 47.0 x 51.4 cm scroll
    Signature & date

    Signed l.l., in Japanese, inscribed in ink "[artist's seal]". Not dated.

    Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 1996
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Hakuin Ekaku

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication