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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Period: Edo period
Title: Tan teikyo gaishi [Carrying the faith alone is unthinkable]
Date: 17th century
Medium: Hanging scroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: 50 3/4 × 19 3/8 inches (128.9 × 49.2 cm)
Credit Line: The George and Mary Rockwell Collection
Object Number: 2000.032.003
Label Text: Known as one of the "Three Brushes of Obaku," Mokuan, whose Chinese name is Mu-an, came from Fujian province, where he began his life as a Zen monk at the age of eighteen. Together with Ingen Ryuki (Yinyuan Longqi), another Chinese Zen master who traveled to Japan, they founded Manpuku-ji, near Kyoto, the main temple of the Obaku
sect. Obaku is the most Chinese of the Japanese Zen Buddhist sects. After Ingen retired as head abbot, Mokuan became abbot of Manpuku-ji and thus the second patriarch of Obaku.

Mokuan was especially admired for his bold, large-character calligraphy. The left scroll refers to the mind-to-mind transmission of the Zen spirit, which is beyond the range of words. The center scroll could also be interpreted, "After receiving enlightenment one sees clearly."

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.