Important Cultural PropertyPriest Xian-zi catching shrimp

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  • By Kao Ninga
  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Ink on paper
  • 86.8x34.5
  • Nanbokuchō period/14th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • A-10931

Priest Kensu is a zen monk of the late Tang period. It is said that he did not settle in one place, that he always wore a shabby priest's stole, that he would dig and eat for shrimp and shijimi clams by rivers and that he would sleep among the shisen (paper cut into coin shapes) in shrines at night. He is generally depicted as a figure catching shrimp with a string in his hand. Kao is an artist of the early 14th century, but his personal background is unknown. Currently, some of his works remain, such as doshakuga (portraits of Taoists and Buddhists) of Kanzan and Jittoku and kachoga (paintings of flowers and birds). While his thick and rough fold lines reflect the techniques of Chinese Zen paintings, the technique of forming a bearded face with damp sumi ink is rare.