The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures

Skull and Gravestick by Zen Priest Genkotsu Motsugai Fusen


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1900: Item # 1366402

Please refer to our stock # ALR6510 when inquiring.
The Kura
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817-2 Kannonji Monzen-cho
Kamigyo-ku Kyoto 602-8385
tel.81-75-201-3497
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A skull lies ethereal, only a soft circle before the ghost-like apparition of a grave-marker rising from the boldly stroked dead grasses of some forgotten field. The epitaph above reads:
“Hana no toki mayouta mo” Wavering they did while in full blossom
“Kono Kareno kana” The neglected fields of winter
Here the artist has made a comment on our lives, we blow with the winds here in there, indecisive in our prim, bobbing joyously in the winds, but all come to the same as the flowers fall and winter approaches. Ink on paper in the original paper border with transparent red lacquered wooden rollers. It is 30.5 x 185.5 cm (12 x 73 inches) and is in overall fine, original condition with some discolorations in the upper border. It comes in an old wooden box.
Takeda Motsugai (Fusen, 1795-1867) was a Zen priest of the later Edo to Meiji period born in Iyo Matsuyama (modern Ehime) on the Island of Shikoku. He used a number of names in his lifetime, Fusen was his official Buddhist name, Motsugai may be that for which he is best known, but another common name was Genkotsu Osho (Priest of the bone fist) and Dobutsuan (Place of the mud Buddha). An unruly child, he was sent at the age of five to Ryutai-Ji temple, and at the age of 12 would go to take official position under Kanko Osho at Denpukuji Temple in Hiroshima. He would become an accomplished practitioner of the martial arts there, mastering many styles and weapons. His fame in this department would spread, along with his first nickname, Shio-kara Kozo (Too-salty Bonze), and he would be asked by the Asano Daimyo of Hiroshima to take a position at Kokutaiji temple where the Asano family studied Buddhism. After causing trouble he would leave Hiroshima for Osaka where he would study Confucianism and undergo mendicant training. At the age of 18 he would become an itinerant priest given to wandering the paths and begging for food. In 1819 he would make his debut in Edo (modern Tokyo) where he would enter Kichijo-Ji temple, and two years later be posted to Ruriko-Ji temple in Yamaguchi, and it was here he woud begin writing, returning to Denpuku=ji and his first teacher Kanko-osho the following year. In 1828 he was given the reins of Zaihoji in Onomichi (Hiroshima) and here his fame as a stern teacher would spread, and many would come to learn under his unique ways known as Fusen-ryu. He became a well known writer adept at both Waka and Haiku forms of poetry. He was also known for his skills in flower arranging, Tea Ceremony, and tactical skill in the game of Go. His reputation as both a learned priest, Confucian scholar and martial prowess saw him much traveled and called upon in the troubled period of the 1860s. In 1865 he would be asked to mediate the first Choshu uprising and his application was presented to the emperor showing here the high regard for which his writing had become known. He died enroute from one of his travels in Osaka in 1867.