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Calligraphy

Obaku Dokuryu (Japanese, 1596-1672)


Because of his profound understanding, Zhao Zhou could use the word “mu.”

The word mu 無 (nothing) refers to the fundamental Buddhist teaching that “all is nothingness.” Zen practitioners seek to realize this experientially rather than conceptually. Questions, or koan, posed by a master play a vital role in the process.

The calligraphy here refers to the first of the koan compiled in China by Wumen Huikai (1183–1260) in a collection called the Gateless Gate. A monk asked the Zen master Zhao Zhou (8th century) if a dog possesses Buddha-nature. Zhao Zhou answered, “Mu.”

Purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1986.

Object Information

artist
Obaku Dokuryu (Japanese, 1596-1672)
period
Edo
creation date
1596-1672
materials
ink on paper
dimensions
50 7/16 x 11 1/8 in.
mark descriptions
Signature: Obaku Dokuryu
Seal: rectangular relief, upper right corner
Seal: square intaglio, below signature
Seal: square relief, below signature
accession number
1986.37
credit line
Roger G. Wolcott Fund
copyright
Public Domain
collection
Asian Art
colors