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Tiger

Artist:
In the style of Muqi (Chinese, ca. 1210–after 1269)
Period:
Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
Culture:
China or Korea (?)
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
51 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (130.2 x 69.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1912
Accession Number:
12.123.1
Not on view
This grouping of three paintings follows the Muromachi-period convention of flanking a religious image with a pair of natural images—landscapes, birds and flowers, or animals. Perhaps this reflects a notion that the enlightened mind is able to comprehend the essential unity of man and nature. Correlated in Chinese Daoist cosmology with the principles of yin and yang, the tiger and dragon together symbolize the creative symbiosis of nature as a whole. Here the dragon in churning motion embodies the active yang principle, while the tiger's posture reflects a yin, or potential force. They are further associated with the complementary opposites of male and female, east and west, and wind and water, respectively.
The tiger-and-dragon pair was especially favored in Muromachi period painting. Three sets of the subject by Muqi, the Chinese painter appreciated above all others at that time, are recorded in the fifteenth-century inventory of Chinese paintings in the collection of the Ashikaga shôguns. This pair, long treasured in Japan as a work of that monk-painter of thirteenth-century China, is one of the many versions his famous paintings inspired.
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