Butterfly Painting and Poem by Otagaki Rengetsu

Ukarekite                               Sporting and sleeping
Hana no no tsuyu ni             Among  the dew in
Nemuru nari                         A field of flowers–
Ko wa daga yume no           In whose dream
Kochoo naruran                   Is this butterfly?

This refers to the famous dream of Zhuangzi: “Am I a man dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?” The bold calligraphy in the inscription appears to flutter about on the paper.  Rengetsu has placed her signature on the opposite side of the inscription, beneath the butterfly, suggesting that Rengetsu herself may be the dreamer.

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