Ink on paper, silk mounting
107 × 47 cm
Meiji 19th century
Ippitsu Daruma signed Sokukōken
Stamp : Gazan
Artist : GAZAN Hashimoto Shōtei (1853-1900)
Inscription The Emperor asked “Who are you?” and Daruma answered “I don’t know.”
Hashimoto Shōtei is better known by his Zen master name Gazan. He was a Zen priest of the Rinzai School, became the 238th chief priest at the Tenryū-ji temple in Kyoto.
Daruma (Bodhidharma) is the legendary monk who is said to be a founder of Zen Buddhism. It is said that he had retreated to the northern Chinese kingdom, in a cave near the Shaolin Monastery where he “faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time”. One legend says that Daruma’s limbs atrophied after these nine years of sitting. That is why Daruma is often depicted sitting on showing his back like this painting.
The inscription tells another legend of Daruma.
Daruma reached at the Liang dynasty (502-587) of China from India. The Emperor Wu of Liang who held fervent religious beliefs for Buddhism welcomed Daruma and he asked some questions to Daruma. The Emperor Wu was not satisfied with the question-and-answer exchange, and finally the Emperor thought that Daruma was not a noted priest as the rumour said. So he finally asked Daruma who he is. Daruma answered a quite unusual answer, and he left Liang because he thought that there was no chance with this country which was reigned by this Emperor…