The monk-painter Bokusai is well known in Japan as a disciple of Ikkyþ Søjun (see his Monk in a Landscape scroll, also in this gallery) and an accomplished portrait artist. His sketch-portrait of Ikkyþ in the Tokyo National Museum is one of the masterpieces of portraiture in the world. Here he has fashioned an amusing but enigmatic scene reminiscent of a village festival procession, complete
with music, dancing, and a float. It is surely a Zen parable turned into a picture, but one as yet unrecognized by scholars or clarified in Bokusai’s lengthy inscription. The originality of the idea as well as its execution in the plainest, most subtle ink tones and direct brush manner serve to heighten the viewer’s delight in contemplating its possible meaning.