Japan 1632 – 1695
Figure of Zenzai Doji (Sudhana)
late 17th century
Materials & Technique: sculptures, wood, ink
Enku entered a Buddhist monastery as a youth, but during much of his life appears to have followed an ancient tradition of ascetic practice in the mountains. Such men were believed to have developed supernatural power and were often sought out to heal or to avert crises. His religious practice involved creating works of art and he is best known for thousands of sculptures, carved mainly with an axe, which he made as offerings, gifts or charms. Most of his sculptures are still located in Japanese villages and shrines. An inscription on the back of this sculpture identifies it as Zenzai Doji, a youth who travelled the Buddhist world from one teacher to another seeking wisdom.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label