This calligraphic scroll written by Song-dynasty Chinese Zen monk Yuanwu Keqin (1063-1135, known in Japan as Engo Kokugon 圜悟克勤) is a good example of the sorts of karamono object collected by early modern tea practitioners.
This piece was in the collection of warrior tea aficionado Matsudaira Fumai. Fumai’s writings about the scroll leave no doubt that he considered this piece among the most valuable of his many treasures. It is chief among the many items inventoried in his treatise Family Utensils of the Country of the Clouds (Unshū meibutsuki). After designating the Yuanwu scroll as a “particularly famous item”, Fumai instructs his successors that “even after I die [such items] should be carefully looked after and treated just as they were when I was alive. Indeed, this concern should be transmitted from generation to generation … These things are world famous articles and treasures of Japan.”
Matsudaira Fumai (also known as Harusato, 1751-1818)
Copyright Melinda Landeck, 2013.
For more on Fumai in English, see Kumakura Isao, "“Matsudaira Fumai : The Creation of a New World of Chanoyu"," Chanoyu Quarterly 25(1980).