Fine Japanese art and tea implements

“Basking Turtle” Hanging Scroll by Ōtagaki Rengetsu


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1900: Item # 1335844

Please refer to our stock # TRC1625 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
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Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan


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Long a symbol of longevity, good luck, and support in many parts of Asia; in Japan the turtle has the added symbolism of being one of the cardinal protectors of Heian, the ancient capital city of Kyoto. This rendition of a turtle basking on a sunny riverbank was done by one of the most renowned and loved Waka poets of the 19th century, Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875).

Born into a Samurai family but soon after adopted by the Ōtagaki family, from the age of seven to sixteen Rengetsu was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle where she was trained in the arts and courtly graces. Due to her rumored great beauty, she 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:

Yorozuyo mo, tae nu nagare to, shime tsu ran, so no kame no o no, yama no shitamizu

10,000 ages― to endure so long, so well, downstream waters, from Turtle Tail Peak.

Sumi on Japananese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 187 cm tall and 33 cm wide. The artwork on the scroll is 104 cm tall and 30.5 cm wide. It is in very good condition and comes with a certificate box notarized by Yoshimura Koetsu, head priest of Joshin-ji (Pure Mind Temple)—a temple Rengetsu was closely associated with during her lifetime. Fully insured international shipping is included in the price.



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