Hanshan and Shide are two legendary figures of the Tang dynasty (618-907), who are said to have lived in Guoqing Temple on Mt. Tiantai where they trained with the Chan (J. Zen) master Fenggan. Following the Song period (960-1279), paintings of Hanshan and Shide were favored by Chan monks. Scenes of Zen Enlightenment took as its subject anecdotes related to Chan Buddhism. Hanshan and Shide are depicted roaring with laughter without answering any of the questions put to them by Fenggan. While the method of delicately rendering the faces and of executing the robes with a coarse brush follows the traditional depiction of figures in ink painting, this work also bears the mark of Yintoulou's abbreviated style.
Paintings by Yintoulou were highly prized in Japan. The box that accompanies this work carries an inscription by the well known tea master and governor of Matsue, Matsudaira Fumai (1751-1818), and from it we know that this famous work was formerly in the possession of the Asano family.