Letter of Priest Gottan Funei (Wuan Puning)


Letter of Priest Gottan Funei (Wuan Puning)

calligraphy / Nara


Southern Song dynasty, China, 13th century/Xianchun 6, 1270

Hanging scroll, ink on paper

H 30.9, W 58.6



This letter was written by Priest Gottan Funei (Wuan Puning, 1197-1276) to Priest Tōgan E’an of Shōden-ji temple at Kamo, Kyoto. in 1270 after Funei had returned to China. The letter paper bears a waxed decoration of a lotus pond. In the letter, Priest Gottan Funei thanked Priest Keian for his letter, which was handed to Funei by Priest Hongaku (Keian’s disciple) on a visit to Sōrin-ji temple in 1268. Funei told about his recent situation and added that he was writing this letter to Keian at the time when Hongaku was returning to Japan. Funei was sending his best regards to his friends in Japan including Nijō Yoshizane, which implies that he had been keeping contact with his Japanese friends even after he returned to China.
Priest Gottan Funei was the successor of Priest Mujun Shihan (Wuzhun Shifan). Funei came to Japan in 1260 and was staying in Kenchō-ji temple on the request of Regent Hōjō Tokiyori. But after Tokiyori’s death, Funei could not find any other patron and returned to China in 1265. This letter, which is a report on the life of Priest Gottan Funei after his return to China, is a significant document in the history of the exchange of Zen priests between Japan and China.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.100, no.77.

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