The Form of No-Form: Reconstructing Huineng in Two Paintings by Liang Kai
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The authenticity and interpretation of two Sixth Patriarch paintings, traditionally attributed to Liang Kai, have long been debated by critical scholars. Because of the lack of inscriptions on the paintings to indicate the identity of the depicted figure, the association of him with the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism, Huineng, has shed much enigmatic light onto the decipherment of these two paintings’ motifs. While historical and literal traditions of Huineng in Zen Buddhism provide no conspicuous references, Zen’s art tradition, on the other hand, provides a more fascinating reading of the Sixth Patriarch paintings by formulating and reconstructing a paradigmatic figure of Huineng and Zen romanticism without restricting itself to historical and literal accuracy.