audio
Landscape by Sesshu (Haboku Sansuizu)
The Magic of Japanese Masterpieces
13m 59s

Broadcast on April 14, 2016
Available until March 31, 2029

Known as Landscape, this picture is an ink painting by Sesshu, one of the representative artists of fifteenth century Japan. In fact, the picture fills only the bottom part of the scroll. The remaining two thirds or so are filled with writing. Six priests wrote poems at the top and Sesshu himself wrote in the part in the middle, telling of his experience of crossing to China and studying there under court painters, and his thoughts towards his teachers. Tracing the steps by which Sesshu came to produce this work, we discover an era in which Zen priests performed an enormous cultural role. The art of ink painting flourished in the Zen temples, where the entirety of everyday life was regarded as religious practice. Sesshu, too, was a Zen priest and the poets who wrote on the scroll were all famous high-ranking priests of the day. The work testifies to the rich intellectual exchanges which took place between Zen priests in those times.

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