sansei-zu 散聖図
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: sanshengtu. A type of painting of Taoist and Buddhist figures doushaku jinbutsuga 道釈人物画, which features Chinese hermit-eccentrics. The term is Chinese in origin and from at least the Song period was used to classify such semi-legendary figures as Hanshan and Shide (Jp: *Kanzan Jittoku 寒山・拾得), Budai (Jp: *Hotei 布袋), Xianzi (Jp: *Kensu 蜆子), Zhutou (Jp: *Chotou 猪頭) and Niaoke (Jp: *Chouka 鳥か). Although these men did not belong to any proper Buddhist lineage, their always strange and often outrageous words and actions made them figures of emulation for Zen 禅 monks who appreciated their enlightened spontaneity and freedom from mundane concerns. The fact that typically little is known about their family names, places or dates of birth and death adds to their considerable mystique. The earliest sansei-zu come from the Song and Yuan dynasties and are represented by extant works of Liang Kai (Jp: Ryou Kai 梁楷, early 13c) and Muqi (Jp: Mokkei 牧谿, late 13c). In Japan, these hermit-eccentrics make up the bulk of Muromachi period paintings of Zen figures and continued to be popular in screen painting of the Momoyama period and in ink painting of the Edo period.


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