This is the form of the
Grand Patriarch wall-gazing—
Or is it a melon or eggplant
From the fields of Yawata
the seventy plus one year-old-
fellow Nantembo Toju
This is one of Nantembo’s signature Zenga. Daruma is ‘wall-gazing,’ turning his back on the world to sit in his cave facing the Absolute. However, Nantembo goes on to joke,
If outward form is all there is to Zen meditation, then the melons and eggplants in the fields of Yawata near my temple are sitting just as well as Daruma and taste good besides.
The most important aspect of Zen meditation is not the physical form but what is inside; the core not the peel.
Nantembo was one of the more colorful Zen masters of recent times. He was famed for disciplining his disciples with a stout staff made from a branch of a nanten tree, hence his nickname Nantembo (Nanten-stick). His actual name was Nakahara Toju. He was a friend of the great swordsman Yamaoka Tesshu, and had many important and influential disciples. Nantembo was said to have had more than three thousand Zen students and he is believed to have created around one hundred thousand works of Zen art.
Age: Late 19th - Early 20th Century
Size: painting 52-3/4" x 13" (134 x 33 cm), overall 77-3/4" x 20-1/8" (197 x 51 cm)
Media: Ink on paper
Price: $2,500.00 USD