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31. Ôtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)
On Mount Inari
Signed: Rengetsu hachijûichi (81)
Technique: sumi and red on paper, 100.5 x 27.2
Date: 1871
Mounting: brown brocade and blue crushed paper
181 x 30
Condition: good

いなり山 / 杉の下枝は / むかしにて / けふ初うまの / 家づとぞ是
Inariyama / sugi no shitae wa / mukashi ni te / kyou hatsuuma no / iezuto zo kore.

On Mount Inari
cedar branches
ancient things...
today’s memento
from this first day of the horse.

(The Rengetsu Foundation Project nr. 44)

Rengetsu is one of those extraordinary figures in Japanese art history, one of a kind. She had four children, three of whom died shortly after birth and the fourth at the age of two. After she had become a widow for the second time, she became a nun and pulled her teeth to make quite sure she would not be attractive any more. She made a living from her pottery and paintings decorated with her own poetry. She studied poetry and sencha with the outstanding scholar, poet and novelist Ueda Akinari (1734-1809), lived with Keibun (1779-1843) for a while and became close friends with Tessai (1837-1924), whom she even tried to adopt as a son. Tessai was her helper and companion during the last twenty-five years of her life. On the invitation of the Abbot Wada Gesshin (Gozan) (1800-1870) she spent her final decade in a tea hut at the Jinko-in temple. Here she deeply immersed herself in the study of Buddhism but also continued her artistic activities.

Kyoto 2014
Canberra 2007
Rengetsu Kodansha 1971