Sacred Name of Tenjin

Sacred Name of Tenjin


Sakugen Shūryō

(Japanese, 1501-1579)

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Overall: 105.4 x 18.4 cm (41 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.)

Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.508



The story emerged in the early 1300s that the kami Tenjin had traveled to China and achieved enlightenment under a famous Buddhist meditation master. Paintings of the subject as well as written invocations of Tenjin’s name were highly valued by the monks of Japan’s Zen Buddhist communities, to which an invocation of Tenjin’s name brushed by Zen monk Sakugen Shūryō attests. Sakugen was both a poet and an official envoy to Ming China in the 1500s. Creating calligraphies of deities’ names was akin to painting religious icons.

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