Anonymous Member’s Pick: Ohara Koson, Monkey Reaching for the Moon
This member’s pick is a woodblock print by Ohara Koson of a monkey reaching for the reflection of the moon in the water. The owner states: I was immediately attracted to this print because of the strong image of the monkey hanging on to a branch reaching down to the reflection of the moon in the water, and because of the use of light and dark, with the reflection of the moon illuminating the monkey’s face. The monkey is playful and serious at the same time, reaching for the impossible.
The image represents a common Buddhist theme depicted by many Japanese artists. In the story a monkey holds on to a branch and attempts to seize the reflection of the moon in water, but falls into the water when the branch breaks. In another version of the story a group of monkeys spots the moon on the surface of the water. They want to save the moon and collaborate making a hanging chain from a branch. When the last monkey touches the water, the moon disappears, the branch cracks and the monkeys fall into the water. In the both versions of the story, the monkey represents unenlightened people who cannot distinguish between reality and illusion.
The artist Ohara Koson 小原古邨 (1877-1945) was active in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. His work van be found in many collections, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which has a large collection of his prints.
Call for member's picks
Do you have an interesting object or a personal favourite you would like to showcase? It may be an object from your own collection or a personal favourite from a museum or another collection. You can submit a photograph and a short post, with a description of the object and a short explanation why this object is special to you to the secretary. Your pick will be posted on our website and social media. Member’s picks may also be anonymous.