K253 The Bright Moon Fills the Rivers Below by Chiyo-ni 千代尼

The bright moon
fills the rivers below *

Brushed by Lady Chiyo **

千代女書
前川
明月満

Chiyo-ni (千代尼, 1703-1775)

K253
hanging scroll, 132 cm × 34 cm, sumi on paper 37.8 cm × 24.5 cm.

 

* A line from a Chinese poem by Yang-Chiung (650-694).
** Before her ordination at age fifty-two she signed her work “Lady Chiyo”, after becoming a Buddhist nun her signature was “Nun Chiyo”.

The bright moon fills the sky with light as well as shining on the waters below; soft moonlight reflects off all the streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans of the world. The moon represents Buddhist enlightenment while the bodies of water symbolize different kinds of people who manifest Buddha-nature in various ways and in varying degrees.
Here we have a rare example of her brushwork in Chinese characters, rather than flowing Japanese script. The brushwork is elegant and refined, strong but distinctly feminine.