Tokutomi Soho | Painting
The several hundred portraits of Daruma, which Hakuin painted over a long period of time, have become iconic and are today probably the best known representation of the Zen patriarch. As a result of that we tend and like to see Daruma whenever we look at any Zen style portrait brushed in bold strokes of ink. This is the case even if it is not Daruma.
Tokutomi Soho painted portraits too (hot hundreds, though) but none of them represents Daruma. They were all without exception self-portraits. Why? Did he suffer from egomania? Has his hyper active life as a journalist and historian led him to a deeper and exclusive interest in himself?
He wrote hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics: international affairs, history, biography, literature, art, until his activities came to a sudden end in 1945 when he was held under arrest until August 1947 in his house in Atami where he stayed until his death in 1957.
In one of his articles Tokutomi makes a point about the fact that Hakuin painted Daruma portraits, which he accompanied most of the times by the sentence: Look inside, see your own nature, and you will realize you are not different from Buddha". Tokutomi concludes that Hakuin's Daruma portraits actually were self-portraits. Thus we are not completely mistaken if we see Daruma in Tokutomi’s self-portraits.
Unlike Hakuin Tokutomi changed the sentence to accompany the portraits. In this case it is a phrase from a poem by Lu You (1125-1210), a Chinese poet active during the so called Southern Song Dynasty: "Thunder from a clear sky". Considering that Tokutomi was in his eighties when he brushed this, he seems to show a healthy amount of self-confidence.
Tokutomi Soho (1863-1957)
Self portrait, 1944
Ink on paper
35.5 x 49.1 cm (14 x 19 1/4 in.)
Mounting 137.5 x 62.5 cm
Box with inscription