skip to Main Content

Tanomura Chokunyu (1814-1907)

“Sixteen Arhats Strolling Through the Woods” 1878

Hanging scroll, ink on silk
181 x 66.7 cm. (71 1/4 x 26 1/4 in.)

“Who built among numerous trees this ancient garden hall? With gate shut and walls in place we need not bar the door; Hoping to rely on the landscape to open our hearts and minds, we then take wine and tea to know intoxication and awakening.

The Classic of Rivers unites principles both abstruse and profound, grass and flowers together have the fragrance of moral beauty; Old rocks and strange trees naturally show their beauty, interrupted mist and flowing haze on the other hand have spirit.

Beginning close to rocks and springs both pure and cold, distant from the city the moss is thick and especially green; River frogs croak and preach prajna wisdom, mountain birds sing in tune with the Treasure Sutra.

Few men face the wall (in meditation) and seldom inscribe poems, the earth is old and beside the road are many mushrooms, Lights flickering through the clouds interfere with gazing above, far and near heavenly music delights the leisured ear.

Felling trees cheng! cheng! like a wooden bell, pine-wind gusts gracefully like a suspended wind chime; At sunrise and sunset our spirits communicate as we worship the red mirror, going or staying with subtle practice we play with green duckweed.

The Teacher of Law’s pleasures are simple and convey his tastes, the immortal’s spirit is pure and extends his age; Breaking and setting aside a dream of one thousand years, I drink three cups of ling wine from a hundred houses.

Don’t say that these circumstances seem to imply the lack of a master—its fullness leaves the universe empty! During the seventh month of the year 1878 of the Meiji era, in order to salute the worthy, inscribed by Chokunyu the Mountain Woodcutter, the Monk of Foolish Fields.”

Artist’s seals:
Kyushi ichiraku (“One pleasure in nine lives”); Den-chi (“Field of Fools”); Chiku-o oji (“Old man bamboo the recluse”)

Tanomura family: Chokunyu koji myoseki shu, Kyoto, 1917, pl. 16.

Recent provenance:
Mano Matsutaro, Owari


Back To Top