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Seisetsu Genjô (1877-1945)
Snail on bamboo, The harmony in the hall can be obtained by passing on the tricks of tradition
Signed: Seiga
Seals: Seisetsu, Seiga
Technique: sumi on paper 135 x 33
Mounting: blure crushed paper
dark wooden rollers, 198 x 44,6
Condition: very lightly creased, otherwise good

The inscription reads: 為求堂和 当傳秘訣
The harmony in the hall can be obtained by passing on the tricks of tradition

The snail, katatsumuri, In Zen paintings stand for Zen priests, although slow, but constantly moving towards its goal.
Or as Enomoto Kikaku (1661-1707) put it into haiku: Katatsuburi / sake no sakana ni / hawasekeri.
A roman snail / It slowly crawls / towards the sake snacks.
and Iwaya Sazanam, (1869-1933): zendô ni ugoku / mono ari / katatsumuri
In the Zen hall / someone is moving / a snail

Seisetsu was born in to a family of sake merchants. Due to local traditions children born at the first day of the first month in the year of the ox were given to neighboring villages. Seisetsu, born on that day, was given to Seki Soshun a priest from the Tenrin-ji near Tajima, Hyogo prefecture. So Seisetsu’s Zen training started on a very early age.

In 1893 when he was seventeen, Seisetsu was send to Kyoto as an attendant to Gasan Shotei (1853-1900) at the headquarters of the Tenryû-ji where he received a severe training. After Gasan’s death Seisetsu went to Kobe to establish the sub-temple Tokkôin where he remained as an abbot until 1913. Early 1918 Seisetsu went to China, after which he wrote a book. He became 240th generation kanchô, head abbot, of the Tenryû-ji in 1922.

Seisetsu was very much interested in art, his father was known as a painter and he would have liked to be a painter as well. He studied the art collections of the temple and after Dokuzan Gengi (1869-1938) had told him: ”See as many old paintings as possible, find structural influence that the heart understands, and which cannot be found else where”, he incorporated painting in his career. Seisetsu, the painter priest, was much indebted to Jiun Onkô (1718-1804) for his calligraphy.

Seo pp. 153-166 (# 71-79)
Moog p. 380 ff