About This Artwork

Artist unknown

Daruma, c. 1550

Hanging scroll; ink, colors, and gold on silk
109.2 x 54 cm (43 x 21 1/4 in.)

Russell Tyson, Samuel M. Nickerson endowments, 1992.98

Zen rose to prominence in Japan in the 13th century, after receiving support from the ruling Kamakura shogunate. In this sect of Buddhism, images of patriarchs were especially revered because the relationships between masters and disciples are of primary importance to the transmission of Zen teachings. Zen’s semilegendary founder, Daruma (A.D. c. 470–c. 543), came from southern India and crossed the Yangzi River in China, where he meditated in a cave at the Shaolin monastery for nine years. In this Japanese painting, his facial features are Indian, and his head is covered as befits a southern Indian monk.

According to an inscription on the back of this painting, it was originally in the possession of Shorinji temple in Okayama prefecture.

— Permanent collection label

Interpretive Resources

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