Gibbons Reaching for the Moon

1600s

Kano Tan’yū 狩野探幽

(Japanese, 1602–1674)
Painting: 170 x 33.9 cm (66 15/16 x 13 3/8 in.); Overall with knobs: 234 x 40.1 cm (92 1/8 x 15 13/16 in.)
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Location: not on view

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Description

Long-armed gibbons form a chain to reach down from a tree, hoping to touch what they believe is the moon. In fact, the orb remaining beyond their grasp is the full moon’s reflection in the still surface of a pond or lake. The image is a common metaphor for the deluded mind in Buddhist thought. Gibbons do not live in Japan but were known to Japanese painters of the premodern era through paintings brought from China.
Gibbons Reaching for the Moon

Gibbons Reaching for the Moon

1600s

Kano Tan’yū

(Japanese, 1602–1674)
Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)

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