Fine Japanese art and tea implements

"Forest Spirits" Hanging Scroll by Ōtagaki Rengetsu


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1900: Item # 1309463

Please refer to our stock # TRC1554 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
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Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan


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This poem, inscribed with Rengetsu’s unmistakeable flowing calligraphic script, is set on a backdrop of colored washi paper decorated with gold flecks and intricate renderings of magical forest spirits. The spirits are drawn using “gofun”—a calcium carbonate powder obtained by heating and grinding oyster shells collected around the Inland Sea coast. Due to the luminiferous properties of gofun, the spirits seem to appear and disappear depending on the light and the angle of viewing—adding an interesting dimension to the composition.

Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) was born into a Samurai family but was soon after adopted by the Ōtagaki family. From the age of seven to sixteen she was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle where she was trained in the arts and courtly graces. Due to her rumored great beauty, Rengetsu soon married but after the death of her husband in 1823, she joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu (Lotus Moon) as her Buddhist name.

Rengetsu is widely regarded as one of the greatest waka poets of the 19th century. A skilled Shijo School painter, she was also an accomplished calligrapher and potter. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai.

The poem reads:

Hitoeda mo, taora ba uke n, Toganoo no, ochiba wa yuruse, aki no yamamori

A twig broken is a sin, here at Togano’o, so permit me, some fallen leaves, O guardians of these autumn hills.

Sumi, gofun, gold fleck, and color on Japanese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 51 inches tall (130 cm) and 24.5 inches wide (62 cm). The artwork on the scroll is 14 inches tall (35.5 cm) and 19 inches wide (48 cm). It is in very good condition and comes with an inside kiri wood box and an outside antique lacquered box. Fully insured international shipping is included in the price.



NOTE: We currently have a number of other fine works by Ōtagaki Rengetsu that are not listed in our catalog. Please contact us for details.