An image of The moon through a crumbling window


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

The moon through a crumbling window, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, was an Indian Prince who in the sixth century travelled from India to China after studying Buddhism to seek enlightenment. Called Daruma in Japanese, he was said to have gone to Luoyang in northern China where he sat facing a wall for nine years, and meditated for so long the wall started to disintergate. Here Daruma is sitting in meditation under the the moonlight, but not serenely, as he is struggling with his thoughts and appears fierce rather than calm. He is portrayed with curly beard and hair and is surrounded by crumbling walls and vines.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
01 Jun 1886
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number