Chinese phrase

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

    17th century
  • Geography

  • Material

    Ink on paper
  • Dimension

    H x W (image): 138.4 × 29 cm (54 1/2 × 11 7/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Artist

    Mokuan Shoto (1611-1684)
  • School/Tradition

  • Description

    A single column of five widely spaced Chinese characters written with vigorous brush strokes [in cursive characters] gives a phrase that carries a number of meanings. It may be literally rendered, "The tip of the stick opens the true [or orthodox] eye." The stick may be understood to refer to the stick used by Zen (C: Chan) masters in training their disciples.
  • Inscriptions

    1. (Excerpted from catalogue entry, From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy, 1986, no. 33) In the single line of cursive script along the lefthand edge of the scroll, the calligrapher identifies himself as "The thiry-third generation after Rinzai [C: Linji], Obaku Mokuan [C: Huangbo Muan]." The signature is followed by two seals. The upper intaglio seal reads, "Shaku-kai to in [Seal of the Ordained Monk (Shoto)]." The lower seal carved in relief reads, "Mokuan shi." In the upper right corner is another seal, reading, "Hogai gakushi."
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Spreading the Word (May 18 to November 12, 2018)
    The Idea of China in Japan: The Tea Ceremony in Japan (December 19, 1999 to June 11, 2000)
    From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy (July 28, 1986 to February 6, 1987)
    Japanese Calligraphy (December 21, 1984 to November 7, 1985)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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