Hanshan and Shide
Hanshan and Shide
Place of production:China
Yuan dynasty, 14th century
Ink on paper
Inscriptions:仏慧浄弁円通宝大師壬梵因 宣授汴梁上方祐国大光教禅寺住持 ; 人言洞裏桃華煙未必人間有此枝 ; 児童不識天辺雪把乍揚華一倒看 ; 釈氏陀羅酔余玄墨 ; 三昧正受 ; 寒山拾得両頭陀或賦新詩或唱歌試問豊干何処去無言無語笑呵々 ; 楚石 ;
Yintuoluo, the creator of this painting, was a Zen Buddhist monk who served as the chief priest of Guangjiao temple in Kaifeng, Northern China during the Yuan dynasty. Zen is a branch of Buddhism where emphasis is placed on experience gained through meditation. Yintuoluo became well known as a Zen monk, but he was also an artist who painted Zen monks using the medium of ink. This work shows the monks Hanshan and Shide with mysterious smiles, laughing at something only they understand. Hanshan and Shide are believed to have lived in Guoqing temple on Mount Tiantai during the Tang dynasty, and they were known for behavior that transcended common sense. This is why they became revered as saints in the world of Zen.
Yintuoluo’s ink paintings are known for their very unique style of line drawing. At first glance, they may appear casually done and blunt, but if carefully examined, they reveal confidence, no superfluous additions, and a distinctive rhythm that can be felt by the viewer. This connects with the idea of Zen, which discourages flashy or mischievous behavior.
Chinese paintings often feature inscriptions. This one was written by Chushi Fangi (1296–1370), a famous Zen monk of the Yuan dynasty. He was also close with many monks who had come from Japan to study. The fact that most of Yintuoluo’s works are now in Japan suggests that they were brought as part of this cultural exchange. This piece is believed to have been part of a longer work, a handscroll depicting many other Zen monks in addition to Hanshan and Shide. It’s possible that this work was cut into smaller sections that were remounted as hanging scrolls for display during tea ceremonies.