Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
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  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks

Large Vintage Japanese Woodblock Scroll of two Monks

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Large Japanese woodblock printed scroll depicting Hanshan and Shide, from the Hashan Temple in Suzhou. In Excellent condition, printed on thick paper with a silk border. The original painting was made from a stone rubbing of an engraved stone Stele in the Hansham Temple in Suzhou. Hanshan and Shide (Japanese: Kanzan and Jittoku) are popular figures in Zen painting. They have been depicted many times as a pair, and the duo has become an identifiable motif in Zen painting and representative of deeper meanings in Zen Buddhism as a whole. Hanshan, whose name means "Cold Mountain," is believed to be an eccentric Zen poet from the Tang Dynasty (618–907) who lived on the Tiantang Mountain in Zhejiang Province. Shide, whose name means "foundling" or "pickup," was a kitchen worker at the nearby Guoqing Temple. He is said to have been abandoned by his family, and then found and raised by Fenggan, another Zen eccentric. As legend goes, the two formed a close friendship, with Shide stealing scraps from the kitchen to bring to Hanshan, and the pair spending time in nature, away from societal structure and institutions. Little is verified about the lives of these two figures, and they "have come to exist only in the works they have left behind.[1]" Hanshan and Shide are easily recognizable in Zen painting. They are almost always depicted wearing scrappy and ratty clothing, appearing disheveled, wandering in nature, laughing, or with mischievous looks on their faces. Hanshan is identified by the scroll he holds in his hand, alluding to his work as a poet. Shide is identified by the broom he holds, which references his work as a kitchen cleaner at the monastery. he figures Hanshan and Shide, while often depicted simply and with humor, carry deep symbolism for the religion of Zen Buddhism as a whole. As seen in the attached images, Hanshan's scroll is often depicted blank. This indicates "that written or printed sutras are nothing compared to the book of nature." Shide's broom can be read as a tool to "sweep out of the cobwebs in our impure souls." Their carefree attitude symbolizes their knowledge that "the things which most men strive for are illusions, and that what really counts is not rank or riches but their own Buddha nature.[2]" Additionally, "in these lunatic figures the Zen artists portray something slightly more than a parody of their own wu-shin or mindless way of life, for as genius is to madness close allied there is a suggestive parallel between the meaningless babble of the happy lunatic and the purposeless life of the Zen sage.[3]" Hanshan and Shide serve the purpose of causing viewers to "confront the fundamental meaning of their own existence.[4]" Many scholars during the Muromachi period regarded Hanshan and Shide to be incarnations of the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī (Monju) and Samantabadhra (Fugen).[5] These bodhisattvas represent wisdom and Buddhist practice respectively, perhaps creating a parallel between the wisdom and practice of Hanshan and Shide. Mañjuśrī is often connected to poetry, oratory, and writing, in the same way that Hanshan is connected to his own poems. This comparison suggests the hidden significance of these otherwise eccentric and simple characters.[6]