Shide Laughing at the Moon

Artist: Attributed to Zhang Lu (1464-1538)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, early 16th century
Zhe School
Ink on silk
H x W (image): 158.2 x 89.2 cm (62 5/16 x 35 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), monk, moon, Shide, Zen Buddhism

To 1911
Li Wenqing (circa 1869-1931), Shanghai to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing, in China, in 1911 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 875, 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
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869-1931


This large solitary figure is the Chan (or Zen) disciple Shide, who lived during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Found in the wilderness as a homeless youth, Shide was set to work as a menial in the monastic kitchen of Guoqing Temple in the Tiantai Mountains of Zhejiang Province, where he later befriended an eccentric local hermit by the name of Hanshan. The two became constant companions and were famous for their bizarre behavior, especially the odd statements and manic laughter with which they often responded to ordinary questions.

Dressed in rags and with unkempt hair, Shide is often shown with a crude kitchen broom, which in this painting lies behind him on the ground. Standing with a crazed expression before a dark vertical wall of rock, head thrown back and mouth open in lunatic laughter, he gazes past dangling creepers to the pale full disk of the moon. Typical of Zhe School painting, which was mainly active in Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the brushwork is fluid and vigorous with bold areas of skillfully graded ink tones.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. "画中人 上海书画出版社." Chinese Figure Painting. Shanghai, China. .
  • Constance Bond. Body and Face in Chinese Visual Culture. Harvard East Asian Monographs, no. 239 Cambridge, Massachusetts. .
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 248.
  • James Cahill. Parting at the Shore: Chinese Paintings of the Early and Middle Ming Dynasty, 1368-1580., 1st ed. New York. pl. 56.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Figure Painting. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 29, pp. 124-125.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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