Tenjin Crossing to China

Artist: Sesshin (late 15th century)
Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, late 15th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 74.5 × 29.6 cm (29 5/16 × 11 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment and funds provided by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Japan, kakemono, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), portrait, scholar, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

This is an imagined portrait of Sugawara no Michizane (845–902), a scholar, courtier, and government official who is best remembered for his skill at composing poetry in Chinese.  Dressed as a Chinese scholar and grasping a branch of flowering plum, Michizane dreams of traveling to China.  Although Michizane was slandered by both political and academic rivals and died in exile, he was later deified as Tenjin (Heavenly Being) and worshipped by generations of aspiring poets, scholars, and calligraphers.  Throughout Japan, people visit shrines to Tenjin on the twenty-fifth day of each month, but especially on February 25, celebrated as Tenjin's birthday, when the plum trees are in bloom.

Published References
  • Robert Borgen. Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court., Pbk. ed. Honolulu. .
  • Smithsonian Year 1984. Washington. p. 187.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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