*This site is is best viewed on a PC or laptop.


Taikō Josetsu

Early 15th Century Japan/Sumi-e


Brief Biography-Taikō Josetsu was a Japanese Zen Buddhist priest from Kyōto known to be active from 1405 to 1496. Unfortunately, there are only three paintings by him positively identified. He was one of the first suiboku or Zen ink wash style painters of the Muromachi Period. Originally from China, he became a Japanese citizen in 1470 and was referred to as the father of Japanese ink painting. Catching a Catfish with a Gourd is his most famous work; it has thirty-one poems inscribed at the top of the image, which is more than usual for this practice. One of the poems indicates that the painting is about how to catch a catfish with a gourd. The subject is a Zen riddle known as a kōan to exercise the mind; the gourd and the catfish are very slippery. One of his renowned pupils was Tenshō Shūbun.


Click an Image to Enlarge


catching a catfish
with a gourd

catching a catfish with a gourd