The Zen Patriarchs Fengkan, Hanshan and Shide

Attributed to KANO Motonobu (1476-1559)
Japan, 16th century
pair of hanging scrolls
H.56.0 cm, W.110.5 cm
The Chinese Tang dynasty monk Fengkan was known for his odd habit of riding a tiger to shock his fellow monks at the Guoching Temple. The monk Shide ("shee-duh") was a man who Fengkan discovered and brought to the temple, and who himself recruited poet-to-be Hanshan by giving him leftover rice. The right hand scroll of this pair shows Fengkan sitting on the back of his tiger, while the left shows Shide holding a broom as Hanshan smiles. Though there are many works of Zen ink painting showing these three characters, examples depicting them in a landscape background on a pair of scrolls are quite rare. These paintings have long been ascribed to Kano Motonobu(1476-1559), but the composition follows an older style related to folding screens painted with flowers and birds. The great tension found in this work demonstrates the strength of pictorial art in ink before the formulaic approach of the Kano school was developed.

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The Zen Patriarchs Fengkan, Hanshan and Shide
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