Littlestone, on the heritage Trust website (theheritagetrust.wordpress.com), describes Mu Ch'i's work as the painting for which a man lost his life. Here is the story. A fire broke out in the Ryoko-in Temple where the painting was kept and the temple burned down. The painting escaped destruction through the sacrifice of one of the temple's monks. The monk braved the flames and ran into the temple. He slit open his stomach, placed the painting in the cavity he had made in his body, and ran out bringing the painting to safety. Stains on the right side of the painting (that one can see in some reproductions) are said to come from this "act of selfless devotion." Who could forget this painting?
As in the case of the Chinese painting, I am drawn to the division into two clear sections, with a darker, heavier section at the bottom. Again, there is the simplicity of forms. Also, who could resist the suggestion of gold in the upper section and the yearning in the face of that little dog as the precious being looks upward? I don't think my eggplants are yearning but I do hope they show some charm.