K251 Zen Horse by Nakahara Nantenbō 中原南天棒

In all human affairs remember
Old Man Sai’s HORSE *

(signed) The 85-year old fellow Nantenbō Tōjū

* The painting of the horse serves as well as the last character of the inscription.

Nakahara Nantenbō (中原南天棒, 1839-1925)

hanging scroll, sumi on paper 131.7 cm × 32.1 cm.


This is the story of Old Man Sai: Sai lived near the border of ancient China. One day his favorite horse ran way. His neighbors said, “Bad luck.” Sai just smiled. A few days later, his horse returned together with a magnificent wild stallion. “Good luck,” his neighbors told him. Sai just smiled. His son tried to ride the new horse but was badly thrown, breaking his leg. “Bad luck,” his neighbors commiserated. Sai just smiled. War broke our in the district, and all the young men in the village were drafted and sent to the front except for Sai’s son who was laid up. “Good luck,” everyone told Sai. He just smiled. In other words, “There is a silver lining to every cloud.” Life is full of changes, and it is best to meet every situation with equanimity. A painting of a Zen horse was one of Nantenbō’s signature themes, and this is a very fine example.