(Japanese, d. 1573)
(Japanese, dates unknown)
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
Hotei is a semilegendary figure who may have lived from the late 800s to the early 900s. He later became prominent in Chan (or Zen, in Japanese) Buddhist literature. He epitomizes the freewheeling figure outside the mainstream monastic system—in which people strive for enlightenment through prescribed methods—who nonetheless attains a high level of spiritual awakening. The inscription 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 that to which his fingertip points.
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