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Portrait of Priest Dazhi (1048-1116), the Master of Law

Portrait of Priest Dazhi (1048-1116), the Master of Law



Hanging scroll, ink and slight color on silk

Image: 92.4 x 40.5 cm (36 3/8 x 15 15/16 in.); Overall: 171.9 x 55.1 cm (67 11/16 x 21 11/16 in.); with knobs: 171.9 x 60.5 cm (67 11/16 x 23 13/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1974.29



A native of Hangzhou, the priest Dazhi was known for his eloquent exposition of Buddhist doctrines and for his success in winning many converts. Here he appears as a simple Buddhist priest, subdued in expression and calm in spirit. He holds a staff and a begging bowl. The poetic stanza above, written by Liu Tao (late 1000s–early 1100s), praises the priest: "Dignified he is, perfect in his upasampada, His appearance is like his mind. Uncompromising and aloof, His mind is like his appearance. To say he is square, he proves to be round. He looks timid, yet his spirit is unbound. Having no attachment, and holding no reigns, Men and deities alike take refuge in him."

The portrait was possibly painted during the master’s lifetime and was later used for worship and commemoration by students and followers.

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