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: A female immortal riding on a white deer

A female immortal riding on a white deer

Hanging scroll
Artist: Kishi Ganku (1749-1838)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 19th century
Ukiyo-e School
Ink, color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 103.5 x 36.6 cm (40 3/4 x 14 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
A female Chinese immortal who holds a red fly-whisk rides a deer that is a symbol of long life in Japan. The image may represent a female counterpart to the popular Chinese Daoist deity of long life, who is known in Japanese as Jurojin. The longevity theme is also represented by the fungus of longevity that grows from the rocks. Jurojin is usually represented as an elderly man, whereas this deity is a young woman. The substitution of a beautiful, youthful woman for the familiar Jurojin may be an example of mitate, a literary and artistic device that creates unexpected parallels or comparisons between dissimilar subjects. The painting was created during a vogue for paintings of "Chinese beauties" that was begun by Maruyama Okyo in the eighteenth century. The inscription, a two-line couplet in Chinese, reads:

While sitting at home she makes a lute her companion,
While she travels abroad a deer attends upon her.

The poem is signed Gyokuen, the literary name of the Confucian scholar and calligrapher Tatsu Seika (1751–1821). The painter, Kishi Ganku, studied Chinese-style painting as well as the style of Maruyama Okyo and his followers. The fluid, descriptive lines and delicate colors of the costume reflect the influence of the Okyo school.

(Translation of poem by William R. B. Acker)

To 1894
M. Terauchi, to 1894 [1]

From 1894 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from M. Terauchi in December 1894 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Voucher No. 6, December, 1894, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Former owner
M. Terauchi (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
couplet, Daoist Immortals, deer, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fly whisk, Japan, kakemono, woman
Collection(s) Area
Japanese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.