The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of May 21, 2024

Gibbons Reaching for the Moon

Gibbons Reaching for the Moon

(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.)
Location: not on view


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.
  • ?–2015
    George Gund III [1937–2013], bequest to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • {{cite web|title=Gibbons Reaching for the Moon|url=false|author=Kano Tan’yū|year=1600s|access-date=21 May 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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