<- Back Home

click image to enlarge

Ôtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)
Autumn moon
Signed: Rengetsu
Technique: 29,3 x 39,3
Mounting: dark grey damask and light grey crushed paper
black lacquered rollers, 113,5 x 51,6
Condition: soiled, and brown marks at the lower part of the mounting, otherwise very good

The poem, a waka reads:
No ni yama ni / ukare ukarete / kaerusa o / neya made okuru / aki no yo no tsuki.

In the fields, in the mountains
I was enthralled, so enthralled;
On the way home
The autumn moon accompanied me
Right to my bedroom!
(trans. John Stevens)

Rengetsu is one of those extraordinary figures in Japanese art history, one of a kind. She had four children, three of whom died shortly after birth and the fourth at the age of two. After she had become a widow for the second time, she became a nun and pulled her teeth to make quite sure she would not be attractive any more. She made a living from her pottery and paintings decorated with her own poetry. She studied poetry and sencha with the outstanding scholar, poet and novelist Ueda Akinari (1734-1809), lived with Keibun (1779-1843) for a while and became close friends with Tessai (1836-1924), whom she even tried to adopt as a son. Tessai was her helper and companion during the last twenty-five years of her life. On the invitation of the Abbot Wada Gesshin (Gozan) (1800-1870) she spent her final decade in a tea hut at the Jinko-in temple. Here she deeply immersed herself in the study of Buddhism but also continued her artistic activities.

Canberra 2007
Roberts p. 129
Fister '88 pp. 144-159 (# 69-76)