Monk in a Landscape

Monk in a Landscape


Ikkyū Sōjun 一休 宗純

(Japanese, 1394-1481)

Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Painting only: 76.8 x 32 cm (30 1/4 x 12 5/8 in.); Including mounting: 153.7 x 38.1 cm (60 1/2 x 15 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1985.89



A monk sits in contemplation beneath a cliff, perhaps a visual reference to the time the Buddha Shakyamuni, or the historical Buddha, spent meditating in the wilderness. The lone figure is an apt subject for the work’s creator, the monk Ikkyū Sōjun. Though Ikkyū was abbot of the Zen temple Daitokuji later in life, he often lamented the level of corruption to which mainstream Buddhism had fallen during his lifetime, stemming from its close ties to the government at the time.

The poem on the painting refers to an important feature of Rinzai school Zen training, in which the meaning of phrases called kōan are contemplated as a means toward deeper spiritual insight. The poem reads:

Monk in the Mountains, in the style of Chōshō
For what purpose did the Rinzai Monk Tokusan live in the mountains?
For thirty years he pondered a kōan with a pure mind
Falling asleep in the quiet of the tall pines

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email