sparse head and upper body of a man with long bristly whiskers and eyebrows; bald head; protruding eyes; large nose; one arcing horizontal wrinkle on forehead; four text characters in top URQ and three red seals; mount three different multicolored fabrics

Half-length Portrait of Bodhidharma, mid 18th century

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Bodhidharma:

Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1769), a Zen priest and prolific amateur painter, is credited
with reviving the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism after a long period of decline. Hakuin focused on meditation and paradoxical anecdotes or dialogues called kōan, the contemplation of which may lead to spontaneous awakening. Hakuin’s bold, sometimes humorous, and altogether unprecedented paintings, were an important vehicle for his teachings, which spread far beyond the monasteries and captured the minds of laypeople. In this work, he painted an imagined portrait of Bodhidharma, the Indian monk credited with transmitting Zen from India to China 1,500 years ago. The patriarch holds his hands before him underneath his robe and casts his gaze up toward four Chinese characters, 見性成佛, which —“look inside to become a buddha.” The four characters are from a poem, attributed to
Bodhidharma himself, that gets at the central teaching of Zen, that all individuals already possess a buddha-nature and that through focusing inward through meditation, one may realize this and gain enlightenment.

Details
Title
Half-length Portrait of Bodhidharma
Artist Life
1685 - 1769
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2018.66.1
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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sparse head and upper body of a man with long bristly whiskers and eyebrows; bald head; protruding eyes; large nose; one arcing horizontal wrinkle on forehead; four text characters in top URQ and three red seals; mount three different multicolored fabrics