Ryozan - Gong (Ho): Fish, mid 18th century

Ryozan (active Japan, mid 18th century)

Gong (Ho): Fish, mid 18th century

Gesso on oak, 23.2 x 36.8 cm (9 1/8 x 14 1/2 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

S3n14

Provenance

Collection of the Japanese art dealer Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston. Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the Matsuki sale by the auctioneers Leonard & Co. at Copley Hall for $12 on 9 November 1903, lot 148.

Bibliography

Leonard & Co. Catalogue of the Rare Objects in Wood, Pewter and Brass Illustrating the Art of Old Japan to be sold at unrestricted public sale by order of Mr. Bunkio Matsuki (Boston, 9-11 November 1903), p. 22. lot. 148. (dated 1700)


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Commentary


In Zen Buddhist temples across East Asia, wooden gongs like this are used to let monks know that it is time to complete certain tasks. Historically, these gongs have often been sculpted into the shape of a fish—like this one from eighteenth-century Japan. While we currently know little about this object's history before Isabella purchased it from the collection of a Japanese art dealer, we do know the name of who created it: its inscription reads "Ryozan saku,” which means made by Ryozan.

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