Calligraphy reads, 'Right before your eyes the puppet master can conjure up all manner of stores !" The artist signed his name as "Gogu" and placed his seal with a zen title, 'Man of 84,000 desires'. Puppet shows were a popular theme of Zen art. Hakuin and Sengai both brushed such scenes. The puppet master is a symbol of the mind: he can conjure up a demon (in his left hand), a saint (the Buddhist monk in his right hand) or an aristocrat (in his box) representing evil, good, and noble thoughts. This puppet master is particularly madcap, gleefully acting out the drama of human life.
Jikkai Ryokai (pen name Gogu) was a disciple of the famous Tendai monk/Zen artist Gocho (1749-1835). Jikkai succeeded his master as the second abbot of Choei-ji, a temple Gocho founded. (On the back of the scroll it says:"Choei-ji Second Abbot Priest Gochu [did this] Puppet Master Painting and Inscription.") Jikkai painted in the style of Gocho, and the soft free flowing brushwork also resembles the calligraphy of Gocho. The seal is a title Gocho often used on his own Zenga: "The man of 84,000 passions." Jikkai's dates are not recorded but it is recorded that he passed away at the age of eighty three. This is an unusual and intriguing Zenga.
ex Denis Sezler collection
appraised by John Stevens, authority on Zenga
Age: Edo Late 19th Century
Size: overall 77-1/4" x 22-1/4" (196 x 56 cm); image 50-3/8" x 19" (128 x 48 cm)
Media: Sumi-e on paper.
Condition: Very Good
Price: $6,000.00 USD