late 1700s–early 1800s
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Painting only: 114.3 x 56.2 cm (45 x 22 1/8 in.); Including mounting: 186.7 x 76.2 cm (73 1/2 x 30 in.)
The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith 1985.277
Here, a woman dressed as a man replaces Fugen, a bodhisattva—a being among those considered enlightened in Buddhism—who symbolizes learning as a path to awakening and typically rides an elephant. The painting teaches the lesson of impermanence through the petals falling from the lotus flower the woman holds. It also alludes to the legend of Eguchi, a 12th-century courtesan who, following an encounter with a Buddhist monk-poet called Saigyō, revealed herself to be a manifestation of Fugen.
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