Biography Nantenb˘, Nakahara 南天榛 中原 (1839 - 1925)
Nantembō was born in the city of Karatsu as the son of a samurai. He became a monk of the Rinsai Zen sect at an early age. His Buddhist name was Zenchū. Nantembō was the nickname he received in 1873 because of the nandina staff (Bō) he acquired to admonish his students.
He became a controversial figure in Japanese Zen circles, devoting his energy to reforming Zen in Japan. He had to give up his prestigious post at the Zuigan-ji in Matsushima because of this. Later he was appointed at Kaisei-ji in Nishinomiya, where he stayed until his death in 1925. In 1908 he was designated the 586th Exalted Master of the main temple of Myōshin-ji. This honour confirmed the high standing he had achieved among his contemporaries.
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Nantembō first started calligraphy when he stayed at Zuigan-ji in the early 1890s. There is a tradition in Japan of bokuseki (traces of ink), works which are thought to express not only the spirituality of the priest who made them, but also of his line of teachers, going all the way back to Daruma himself. It is not surprising therefore that Nantembō started making calligraphy when he became the master of Zuigan-ji. For himself, his painting was a form of Zen practice, as it helped him achieve total concentration. Among his best-known designs are Daruma, Bō, mount Fuji, Ensō, some animals and numerous calligraphies of Zen notions.
See also paintingss from Deiryű 泥龍 (1895-1954)
See also paintings from Seisetsu, Seki 精拙 関 (1877-1945)
See also paintings from Awakawa, K˘ichi 淡川 康一 (1902-1976)