Shakyamuni Returning from the Mountains
Three Sages Tasting Vinegar
The three masters are Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Zi.
The first has a sour look on his face, the second wears a bitter expression, but the third man is smiling.
The Three Tasters. Ink and color on paper. 44.5 x 46.3 cm. Genshin/LACMA
In the “Three Tasters”, Hakuin used coloured inks, a characteristic of his earlier, detailed scrolls, to depict a middle-aged scholar-poet on the right (Confucius), an elderly Taoist (Lao-tzu) on the left and a large, sculpted figure of a Buddhist (Shakyamuni) at centre, who surround a pot of wine. The asymmetical calligraphy at the upper right adds movement to the otherwise static composition and reflects Hakuin's ability to resolve, through picture and inscription, visual and philosophical paradox. For this work, Hakuin wrote:
Three creeds, one creed –
One creed, three creeds –
After all, what do they come to?
Attaining supreme virtue.
- portraying an emaciated Siddhartha before his enlightenment at the time he practiced asceticism