This could be either Daruma or Kannon, and even the inscription is ambiguous with references to both (fushiki, translated here as "mysterious," for Daruma; and entsu, "perfect and complete," for Kannon). There is a tradition in Zen that Daruma (insight) is a manifestation of Kannon (wisdom). Sometimes one sees the inscription, "Daruma is originally Kanzeon (i.e., Kannon)." One characteristic of an enlightened master is the ability to identify with both the female and male aspects of one's Buddha-nature, and Rozan has done that very well in this paintingóthe figure can represent either sex, depending on the viewer's mood. The inscription further identifies buddhahood with the profound appreciation of nature's glories.
Seki Rozan was born in Nagoya. He became a Zen monk at age eleven and was associated with Tokugen-ji, a major Rinzai Zen temple in Nagoya for most of his life. He was appointed abbot of Myoshin-ji in 1919. Rozan had a gentle, easygoing nature (unlike most uncompromising Zen masters), and that characteristic is reflected in his brushwork.