Paul Binnie

Scottish, b. 1967


oil on canvas; signed at upper left, BINNIE with artist's date seal 98, annotated by the artist on verso canvas with kanji title, 石橋, in English, Shakkyo #11, PAUL BINNIE 1998, and on the stretcher, PAUL BINNIE 1998, 石橋: Shakkyo No SERIES #11, 1998

painting 16 by 12 1/2 in., 40.64 by 31.75 cm
gilt frame 20 5/8 by 16 7/8 in., 52.3 by 43 cm

In the play Shakkyo, a monk stops by a long, narrow stone bridge in China, where a local woodcutter boy tells him that the land beyond the other side of the bridge is the Pure Land belonging to Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri Bodhisattva). Crossing the bridge over a deep gorge is difficult for humans (a symbol of the difficulty of Buddhist ascetic training), but the boy predicts that the monk will see a miracle if he stays long enough at the bridge. Eventually a red-maned lion appears, a guardian messenger of Manjusri Bodhisattva, who plays with the fragrant peony flowers growing nearby. The highlight of the play is lion dance (shishimai), which is only performed by Noh performers with advanced skill. In some versions, a father (white mane) and son (red mane) pair of lions appear and dance.

This play (and its lion dance) has been adapted for performance in several kabuki plays. However, in the original Noh version, the actor wears a shishiguchi (lit. lion mouth) mask rather than stylized kabuki makeup. This painting is in fact a portrait of a mask made by a Living National Treasure that the artist had acquired, rather than a depiction of a particular Noh performance.


(inv. no. C-3056)

price: $4,500


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475