Sengai Gibon

Sengai Gibon

Sengai Gibon box
Sengai Gibon

Sengai Gibon, (1750-1837)

Ebisu with poem

hanging scroll, ink on paper; mounted on brocade; with one artist seal Sengai; accompanied by a storage box inscribed on the lid: Kokin Ebisu Sengai Osho hitsu (Gold Coin Ebisu, painted by Master Priest Sengai), and signed and dated by Tohko, the Shofukuji Temple Master (where Sengai lived and worked): Showa jugonenn kanoe tatsu fuyu Tohko kore(wo) dai (Showa 15 [1940], cyclical date 'elder brother metal'-dragon), early 19th century

painting: 12 1/4 by 12 1/4 in., 31 by 31 cm
overall: 47 1/2 by 16 in.; 120.5 x 40.5cm

Sengai Gibon was a monk of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism known for his lighthearted sumi ink paintings. Although the devotional practices of the Rinzai sect were notoriously rigorous and demanding, Sengai was controversial in his efforts to make Rinzai teachings more accessible. At the age of 40 Sengai assumed control of the Shofukuji Temple in Fukuoka, the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, built by the Zen master Yosai who returned from Sung Dynasty China in 1195. Sengai's role in reviving the prominence of Rinzai Buddhism and the Shofukuji in the early 19th century is deeply associated with the temple even today. While at Shofukuji, Sengai began to produce paintings and calligraphy in his individualistic style.

This painting illustrates Ebisu, the Lucky God of fishermen and merchants, holding a rod with a large red snapper. The poem likens Ebisu's catch of the red snapper to capturing wealth itself, in the form of gold coins.

Tsurete medetai

Ebisu ko

Gold coin
successfully caught
worship Ebisu

Yuji Yamashita, Zenga-The Return from America: Zenga from the Gitter-Yelen Collection, Asano Laboratories, Inc., 2000, pp. 117-124



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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
December 1, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475