2002-2003, New Acquisitions, "Enduring Vision and Beyond"


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Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768)

As one of the highlighted artists of the exhibition “Zenga: Return from America” (which toured Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Yamaguchi in 2000-2001) Hakuin has recently seen a resurgence of popularity in Japan and has been featured in popular magazines and television programs.

Hakuin has been a mainstay of the Manyo’an Collection from the very beginning, and his appeal is still irresistible.

Recently, several notable works by Hakuin have joined the collection. One of the more unusual of these is a painting of the 12th-century general, Kumagai Naozane, on a horse.

Legend has it that, after defeating Taira no Atsumori in battle, Naozane renouced the world and became a Buddhist monk in atonement for his sins. When summoned to the capital in Kamakura, he refused to turn his back on the West (where the Pure Land is located) and instead rode facing backwards on his horse all the way from the Kyoto while reciting the name of Amida Buddha.

Hakuin often painted figures whose depth of devotion he particularly admired and this is no doubt the reason he chose Naozane as a subject here.

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