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The Zen priest Ikkyu Osho
Important Cultural Property
Inscription by Motsurin Joutō
1 hanging scroll
Ink and light color on paper
Muromachi period/15th century
Donated by Mr. Okazaki Masaya
Tokyo National Museum
His eyes are looking at us out of the portrait, and his hair is grey and ruffled. His face is skinny and bony, unshaven for a long time, with deep wrinkles engraved on the forehead. Among Japanese portraits, this is exceptional because of its remarkably realistic and vivid impressions.
 However, this painting is not intended to be a completed portrait. It was made in the process of producing a completed piece and can be called a rough sketch. Portraits in that period mostly depict the whole body of the person with natural mineral pigments on silk. There are very few pieces with the only head and shoulders painted in thin colors on paper like this one.
 The pieces that were originally a sketch for a portrait include, other than this one, Shinran Shounin Kagami no Goei (Mirror Portrait of Shinran), Hakuun Egyou-zou (Portrait of Hakuun Egyou), Hasegawa Touhaku's Myouhou Ama-zou (Portrait of Myouhou Ama), and some of Watanaba Kazan's paintings. It appears that those sketches are more vivid, more realistic, and their touches are more lively and fascinating than the completed paintings. This portrait of Ikkyū is a rare piece of art that has been passed down with admiration, thanks to its exceptional charms.