Toad Sage Toad Sage

Mid Edo Period (18th c.)/Ink on paper, hanging scroll

131.2 x 27.0 cm

Use of Images


“Toad Sage” refers to the xian (an enlightened person in Taoism) Ge Xuan or Liu Haichan of China, and is said to manipulate a three-legged toad. The sage cradles the toad in the belly of his clothes, and in his hand he holds a peach branch, calling to mind the xian-tao (peach of immortality) which bears connection to an anecdote of Xi Wangmu (the Queen Mother of the West) and the toad. The Toad Sage is often depicted paired with the Iron Crutch Sage, and it is interesting to consider that this piece may also be one half of a pair as well. In any case, from the signature (Soga Teruo) and seals (Shohaku, Ranzan) and its condition, the piece is considered to be a relatively early one from the artist’s early 30s.


Soga Shohaku


Soga Shohaku was born Miura Shohaku in Kyoto. He studied under Takada Keiho, but is said to have also been influenced by the Unkoku school. He was such a deep devotee of Jasoku Soga that he went so far as to adopt the name Soga. In his twenties and thirties he visited Ise and Banshu (in the region of Hyogo Prefecture) a few times, and in Ise he produced many paintings on paper doors and partitions, such as those of Chodenji temple and the former Nagashima house. The characteristics of his work include eccentric deformation, strong color and a very individualistic, bold style of painting – as evident in Gunsenzu-byobu (“Folding Screen - Gathering of Hermits”). In his later life he secured a position for himself as a painter based in Kyoto. He died at the age of 52.

List of artworks by the same artist


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