two large characters arranged vertically; gray and blue mount

Pines and Vines, second half 18th century

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Chō Tōsai was the son of a Chinese merchant and a Japanese courtesan in the Maruyama brothel district of Nagasaki. He was adopted by the Buddhist monk Jikuan (1699–1756), and when Jikuan became the 13th abbot of Kyoto’s Manpuku-ji Temple, Tōsai moved there as well. After Jikuan’s retirement in 1739, Tōsai returned to secular life and traveled through Japan as a painter, calligrapher, and teacher of Chinese Ming Dynasty style and culture. He lived in Edo (today’s Tokyo) from 1744 until moving to Osaka in 1758 where he was considered the leading Chinese-style calligrapher of his time. The two characters here represent the Chinese name (songluo, Jp. shōra) of the plant beard lichen (sc. Usnea) but also refer to vines entwined with pine trees as a metaphor for the firm relationship between men and women.

松蘿
Pines and vines

Details
Title
Pines and Vines
Artist Life
1713 - 1786
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2013.29.952
Curator Approved

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two large characters arranged vertically; gray and blue mount