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13. Gibon Sengai (1750-1837)
Autumn wind on Somei Hill
Signed: -
Seals: Sengai
Technique: sumi on paper, 31 x 22.5
Mounting: original cream paper
89 x 33
Box: authorized by Suizanjin (dates inknown)
Condition: a little worn, soiled and little wormage, otherwise good

秋風に染井の岡の紅葉は / 怡土しまかけて錦なりけり
Akikaze ni Somei no oka no momiji wa / Itoshima kakete nishiki narikeri.

As the autumn winds begin to blow
The leaves on Somei Hill are turning crimson
A way to Ito Isle,
Weaving variegated sheets of brocade

(Compare. Suzuki 1999 # 96)

My jokes with brush and ink
Are neither calligraphy nor painting,
Scattered among misguided people,
They become calligraphy and painting.
Translation adapted from Suzuki Daisetz 1971, p. 25 (Rosenfield)

Sengai was a monk of the Rinzai sect. He was known for his controversial teachings and writings, as well as for his lighthearted sumi-e paintings, a preacher full of wit and greatly concerned with spiritual welfare of ordinary people; a modest man. Not much information about him, because he did not want any writing to be done on his life.

He was born in a poor farming family with lots of brothers and sisters in (todays) Gifu-prefecture. At the age of eleven he started religious training at a local temple. Looking promising he was sent to leading Zen masters near Nagata.
About 1787 he was invited to come to Shôfuku-ji in Hakata on Kyûshû. The Shôfuku-ji, founded in 1195, although small was one of the oldest Zen temples in Japan. He became abbot in 1789 and retired in 1811, to become abbot again in 1836. In the meantime he lived near the Shôfuku-ji, receiving many visitors.

Idemitsu 2016
Suzuki 1999
Fukuoka 1986
Idemitsu 1966
Rosenfield '99 B.79