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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
Inside Art with Stephen Addiss F or Zen art, the most important subject has long been the legendary founder of Zen—Bodhidharma, or Daruma in Jap- anese. Images of the patriarch were painted in China, but became especially prevalent in Japan, where Zen reached a high level of cultural influence in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. However, in 1615, with the advent of the feudal military dictatorship known as the Tokugawa Shogunate, Zen was no longer supported by the government, and the tem- ple ateliers that produced Zen-style paintings for the elite were disbanded. Who then was to paint important images such as those of Daruma? The answer may be surprising: the Zen masters themselves. It is as though Pope Julius told Michelangelo to forget painting the Sistine Chapel, he’d do it himself. The result may have been a lessening of technical skill from the days of monk–paint- ers such as Sesshû, but in learning to read and write, monks had become familiar with the implements of brush, ink, and paper, Hakuin Paints Daruma STEPHEN ADDISS is an author, painter, calligrapher, and art professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He is coauthor of The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin, with Audrey Yoshiko Seo. CHIKUSEICOLLECTION and thus were able to move easily from cal- ligraphy to ink painting. Meanwhile, in the hands of major Zen teachers, the Zen content grew stronger. For example, the backgrounds became much simpler or were omitted alto- gether, and the focus on the main subject, often a Zen avatar, increased. These features are notable in the art of the most significant Zen master of the past five hundred years, Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768). At a time when Zen was struggling in Japan’s increasingly mercantile culture, he thoroughly revised the training methods of Rinzai Zen, and simultaneously reached out to every seg- ment of the population with his teachings. These methods included writings of all kinds (including Zen folksongs), public lectures, and, not least, his painting and calligraphy. He not only portrayed major Zen figures but created a new visual language for Zen, with subjects drawn from everyday life and images from folklore. Hakuin painted well over a hundred images of Daruma, each time a little differ- ently, and with increasing force and power throughout his life. The image featured here was done by Hakuin in the latter part of his life and portrays Daruma meditating, which he was reputed to BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 10 70