Reeds and Geese

Reeds and Geese


calligraphy by Yishan Yining [Issan Ichinei] 一山一寧

(Chinese, 1247-1317)

inscription by

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Painting: 80.4 x 32.2 cm (31 5/8 x 12 11/16 in.); Mounted: 158.5 x 42.2 cm (62 3/8 x 16 5/8 in.)

Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.464


Reeds and geese has been a common pairing in Chinese literary and visual culture for many centuries. This painting presents the contribution of a Japanese amateur painter, almost certainly a Zen Buddhist monk, to Japan’s fledgling efforts to add the theme to its own cultural vocabulary in the early 1300s. As was customary at the time in Japan, the painter did not sign or seal his work; the inscription, a poem added to the painting by the eminent émigré monk Yishan Yining, along with his signature and seal, was of far greater cultural value. Today, the modestly sized painting has tremendous significance as one of the earliest surviving examples of Japanese ink paintings with reeds and geese.

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