Popular Deities, Sages, and Immortals

Signature and three seals. Silk makimono.

View right to left

Artist: Hanabusa Itchō 英一蝶 (1652-1724)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, late 17th-early 18th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (overall): 25.4 x 385 cm (10 x 151 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


child, Daoist Immortals, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, torii gate, ukiyo-e

To 1904
Michael Tomkinson (1841-1921), Kidderminster, England, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Michael Tomkinson in 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 443, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Michael Tomkinson (C.L. Freer source) 1841 - 1921
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Signature and three seals. Silk makimono.


Artist's seal: Kochūten 壺中天 (?)
Artist's seal: Hanabusa shi 英氏
Artist's seal: Kyūsōdō shujin旧草堂主人


In Zen (Chinese: Chan) Buddhism, the sages of Chinese legend-Kanzan (Chinese: Hanshan ) and the temple attendant Jittoku (Chinese: Shide)-became important exemplars of enlightenment in outwardly unconventional form. Here, in a scroll of humorous depictions of deities, sages, and immortals, the reclusive poet Hanshan playfully touches Shide's forehead with his calligraphy brush as Shide naps with his broom in hand.

In the following scene to the left, a Chinese immortal both startles and delights a young boy by conjuring a hobby horse from a gourd. According to Chinese legend, this immortal had a magical white mule that he could fold up and insert into a gourd. When he needed his mule for travel, he could revive it to its original form by spritzing it with water. This amusing transformation of the familiar story employs a form of visual play on words and images known as mitate, a popular entertainment in the Edo period (1615-1868).

Published References
  • Elisabeth West FitzHugh. A Pigment Census of Ukiyo-e Paintings in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 11 Washington and Ann Arbor, 1979. pp. 27-38.
  • Kobayashi Tadashi. Hanabusa Itcho (1652-1724)
    . no. 260 Tokyo, January 1988. p. 77.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum