Thursday, February 23, 2012

Enter the tea dragon

"Fugaku Toryu Zu" ([富嶽登龍図] Drawing of Dragon Climbing Mt. Fuji) is a calligraphic brush painting by Kano Eigaku. It was commissioned in 1852 by Ii Naosuke, a late-Shogunate-era official who was also an avid practitioner of sado.

This work was featured in a collection I came across called Zencha no Kokoro ("Spirit of Zen and Tea"). Other than its first owner, what is the painting's connection with tea? This work clearly reflects the turbulent times in which it was painted. But is the mighty dragon being engulfed by the storm around him, even as his eyes are fixed determinedly on the mountain's peak? Or is he emerging from the storm's grasp? Perhaps that is the point: the ending of the dragon's quest has not yet been written.

—Mellow Monk


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