- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Daruma dressed as Yoshiwara courtesan, wearing robe patterned with holy sceptres. Ink and colour on paper. Inscribed, signed and sealed.
- Production date
- 1789-1818 (c.)
Height: 88 centimetres
Width: 28 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Clark 1992
Having the monk Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, dress as a Yoshiwara courtesan (wearing a robe patterned with holy sceptres, no less!) may seem scurrilous, but this was not an unusual subject in Ukiyo-e, deriving perhaps from the fact that the word 'daruma' was Edo slang for 'prostitute'. In a broader sense Zen philosophy had always challenged accepted thinking with a provocative mixture of the sacred and the profane. This theme is taken up in the inscription, which comically ponders the nature of 'truth' versus 'lies', 'reality' versus 'illusion' in the context of the pleasure quarter, in a style reminiscent of Zen riddles:
Truth is the skin of lies; lies are the bones of truth. When you are bewildered, lies seem like the truth; when you are enlightened, the truth seems like lies. It is all right to be bewildered, it is all right to be enlightened on Main Street, Yoshiwara, amid lies and truth. The pledges of courtesans may be truth or lies and are as myriad as their customers, like grains of sand on a beach.
A similar inscription appears written by Ota Nampo on a painting by Takao Shoroku (a pupil of Eishi) dating from the Bunka era (1804-18) (Kumamoto 1989, no. 38), and the playful, topsy-turvy logic of the text suggests that he may have composed it in the first place.
Nothing is known of Togetsu, but from his art surname he is certainly a painter of the Tsutsumi line established by Torin I some time in the middle of the eighteenth century. Torin III is said to have been one of Hokusai's teachers, and he and other Tsutsumi painters collaborated with Ukiyo-e artists in the production of several colour-printed 'kyoka' anthologies during the 1790s. The very rough line suggests Togetsu was a painter of only amateur status.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.40 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)