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This playful image of a Japanese raccoon dog (tanuki) enjoying a flask of saké 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:
Furutanuki, sake motomuru ya, ame no yo no, so no tsurezure no, susabi naru ran
An old tanuki, foraging for sake? Perhaps this is how, he passes the leisure hours, on a rainy night
Frequently found in Japanese legend and folklore, tanuki are portrayed as jolly but often mischievous creatures possessing magical powers. A master of disguises, it is a common saying in Japanese, “the fox has seven disguises, the tanuki has eight.”
Sumi and color on Japnanese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 113.5cm tall and 55cm wide. The artwork on the scroll is 30cm tall and 44.5cm wide. It is in very good condition and comes with a certificate box notarized by a priest of Jinko-in (where Rengetsu spent the greater part of her later years). This particular piece was prominently featured in a 2014 exhibition at the Nomura Art Museum in Kyoto, Japan (one of the largest exhibitions of the works of Rengetsu to date) and is pictured on page 111 of Ōtagaki Rengetsu: Poetry and Artwork from a Rustic Hut, 2014. Fully insured international shipping included in 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.