Bodhidharma seated in meditation

Artist: Hashimoto Gahō 橋本雅邦 (1835-1908)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, ca. 1885
Ink and tint on paper
H x W (image): 118.5 × 50.1 cm (46 11/16 × 19 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Buddhism, halo, Japan, kakemono, meditation, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), Zen Buddhism

To 1902
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908), New York, NY, and Spring Hill, AL, to 1902 [1]

From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ernest Francisco Fenollosa in 1902 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 285, pg. 66, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (C.L. Freer source) 1853-1908
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Bodhidharma was the legendary Indian Buddhist monk who taught Zen Buddhist ideas to Chinese disciples, who then transmitted the teachings to Korea and Japan. The human and personal bonds of teacher and pupil were especially strong in Zen Buddhism, which encouraged each individual to seek enlightenment through practices such as meditation. Japanese representations of Bodhidharma often portray him wearing a red monk's robe that covers his head. The cavelike setting recalls a story that he once sat in meditation for nine years facing a cliff at the Shaolin temple in China. Here the artist renders the patriarch with fierce features that express his spiritual strength and an aura of light around his head, often seen in Buddhist representations of deities. This mode of representation reflects the function of such portraits, which were often given by a Zen master to a pupil as
a symbol of enlightenment or to commemorate the anniversary of Bodhidharma's death.

Published References
  • Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers: The Houghton Library, Harvard University. 2 vols., , Japanese ed. Tokyo. vol. 2: pl. 23.
  • Beatrice Hohenegger. Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West., 1st ed. New York. p. 37.
  • Melissa Myozen Blacker. You've Had Enlightenment Experiences. vol. 3, no. 3 Boulder, Colorado, July 2018. p. 65.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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