VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Zen priest
SMV 91.421
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This statue represents a Zen priest as founder of a temple (jap. go-kaizan). In his left hand he was originally holding a fly whisk, the symbol of his sacerdotal dignity. His left shoulder is covered with a magnificent wrap, and on his head he is wearing a cap which originally had seven little figures, but only three are preserved. These figures may represent the forefathers or forerunners of the priest, whom this statue represents. The statue is of unique craftsmanship and is striking because of its exactness and love for detail. The lively portrait of the priest or abbot expresses composure, inner calm and contemplative mood.

History of the Object
This statue was acquired on 5 September 1891 by the Berlin company Carl Schmitz & Co., after Dr. Max Buchner, the second director of our museum, saw it in an antiques shop in Kobe during his stay in Eastern Asia 1889/90. It is not known to which temple the statue originally belonged and how it arrived in the antiques shop. It was shown in a number of exhibitions and publications on Chinese Art.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
wood, lacquer 
Measurements
Width 100 cm Height 134 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan; Kobe (?) 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century 
Function
object of veneration 
Acquisition
Purchase in 1891. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, Germany 
Museum
Five Continents Museum, Munich 
Credit line
State Museum of Ethnology, Munich, Germany 

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