Sōtatsu: Making Waves

Shamo Chicken

Shamo ChickenThis scroll depicts a shamo chicken (game fowl) with a confident pose. It was done entirely in monochrome ink, except for the touches of red in the crown, wattle, and earlobe. The round vermilion seal I’nen is pressed in the lower left corner. Evidence of damage at the top portion of painting may indicate it was once a panel element pasted on a folding screen.

Various examples of this fowl appear in early to mid-seventeenth-century paintings , some with the I’nen seal and others, rendered more flatly, bearing the Taiseken seal. The former type is considered to be older. The shamochicken did not appear as a single subject in Japanese painting prior to Sōtatsu’s time, although it was depicted in early narrative scrolls. Sōtatsu’s deep research into medieval painting scrolls may have elevated this tiny and miscellaneous subject to a new prominence.

Shamo Chicken
Sōtatsu school, I’nen seal
Japan, early 17th century
Hanging scroll
Ink and color on paper, wooden roller knobs
Private collection

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