A Sash of Clouds

Artist: Obaku Kosen (1633-1695)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, after 1678
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
H x W: 167.8 x 38 cm (66 1/16 x 14 15/16 in)
Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto
Credit Line
Purchase -- funds provided by the Friends of Asian Arts
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

cursive script, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan

To 1994
Joseph L. Brotherton, San Francisco, to 1994

From 1994
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from Joseph L. Brotherton in 1994

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Joseph L. Brotherton


Calligraphic styles emphasizing strength and simplicity were especially promoted by Zen Buddhist monks, whose religious practice stresses meditation. The arresting visual power of this calligraphy is expressed in three cursive Chinese characters. The horizontal stroke at top, "one," is followed by the single character "sash," which stretches for nearly the entire length of the scroll; the final character, "cloud," loops to end in a wave. The calligrapher Obaku Kosen, whose signature and seals appear to the left of the inscription, was born in Fuzhou, China. Like many monks of the Huangbo (in Japanese, Obaku) Zen Buddhist school, he emigrated permanently to Japan, where he assumed an important role in the expansion of Obaku teaching. His calligraphy reflects styles prevalent in China during the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644), which were admired and emulated by Japanese scholars and spiritual leaders. This scroll is a particularly striking work by Kosen, whose work sheds light on the history of calligraphy in both China and Japan.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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