mid 1500s

Yamada Doan

(Japanese, 1571)

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Overall: 85.7 x 35.3 cm (33 3/4 x 13 7/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1978.48


The subject of this painting is Hotei, a Chan (Zen in Japanese) monk of the Tang period in China who became a legendary figure in Japan. There he symbolized the common man who attained saintly status. Døan was known for his religious paintings associated with Zen teachings. The inscription, of unknown authorship, warns against seeking enlightenment by conscious effort:
Big stomach, gaping garment,
Treasures gathered deep in the bottom of his bag,
Passing through the sky is another road,
Do not seek what his fingertip points to.

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