About This Artwork

Ike Taiga
Japanese, 1723-1776

Group Pilgrimage to the Jizo Nun, 1755/65

Hanging scroll; ink on paper
54.9 x 123.2 cm (21 5/8 x 48 1/2 in.)

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment; Margaret Gentles Fund; Restricted Gift of Roger L. Weston, George and Roberta Mann, Harlow and Susan Higinbotham, Charles C. Haffner III, James M. and Carol D. Trapp, 2005.168

Ike Taiga was a revolutionary known for revitalizing Japanese painting traditions in the eighteenth century. He infused the Chinese-inspired ink painting (nanga) that was gaining favor among intellectuals in Kyoto with a purely Japanese aesthetic and humor. Group Pilgrimage to the Jizo Nun is a snapshot of contemporary life in Japan presented from Taiga’s unique perspective. The print depicts pilgrims making offerings to the Jizo nun, a holy woman believed to be able to communicate with the bodhisattva Jizo, who had the power to save souls in the afterlife.

Group Pilgrimage contains an inscription relating the story of the Jizo nun. Taiga was a master calligrapher, poet, and seal carver and was well versed in all forms of writing, from ancient seal script to cursive kana. Here he rendered the inscription in a cursive, informal style very much in keeping with the spontaneity of the painting itself. Taiga was also renowned for his use of finger painting and other odd techniques. Although opinions vary as to whether or not this work is a finger painting, it is clear that Taiga did not use a traditional brush. It seems likely that this could be a “paper twist painting,” in which the artist worked with scraps of twisted paper charged with ink.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 111.

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