Artist: Takuma Eiga 宅間栄賀 (fl. early 14th century)
Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, 1333-1573
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 69.4 × 42 cm (27 5/16 × 16 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Buddhism, elephant, halo, Japan, kakemono, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), reading, sutra

To 1904
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1904 [2]

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


[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Kakemono List, S.I. 42, pg. 134, 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


The Buddhist deity Fugen, a bodhisattva (enlightened being), is usually depicted riding an elephant.  In this small ink painting, the animal lies on the ground in what is clearly an earthly setting, while the youthful Fugen reads from a sutra (sacred text).
Zen Buddhism, which came to Japan from China, had a profound effect on Japanese spiritual and artistic life.  Ink painting became established in Japan through the strong patronage of Zen monasteries, and its influence spread to artists of other sects.
Takuma Eiga was trained in traditional Buddhist painting techniques that used colors and gold. Here, only ink and the slightest tint of pink on the figure and the elephant are used. In contrast to the resplendent clothing and jewelry seen in traditional Buddhist paintings and sculpture, Fugen wears the robes of a Buddhist monk.

Published References
  • The Abundance of Japanese Art: Essays in Honor of Professor Kobayashi Tadashi's Seventieth Birthday. Japan. .
  • unknown title. no. 207 Tokyo, August 1983. fig. 2.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 3: pp. 112-113, pl. 5.
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2, pt. I, pl. 71.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 21, vol. 2: p. 158.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 104, fig. 69.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 108.
  • Yoshiaki Shimizu. An Individual Taste for Japanese Painting. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 136-149, fig. 3.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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