K209 Wisdom Water by Nakagawa Sōen 中川宋淵

WISDOM WATER (signed) Ryū[taku-ji] Mitta*
Nakagawa Sōen (中川宋淵, 1907-1984)
K209 hanging scroll, sumi on paper, 132.1 cm × 35.6 cm. (1969)


*Sōen’s Zen master name

Wisdom water, “hannya-to,” is a code word for rice wine among Buddhist priests. Since they are not supposed to drink alcohol according to the precepts, Buddhist priests conveniently designate sake as wisdom-water. Both Sōen and his master Yamamoto Genpō loved sake so another meaning of this calligraphy is “imbibing the wisdom of my master.” Still another interpretation could be, “flood yourself with Buddhist wisdom when you drink.”