Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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明窓筆 虎図
Tiger

Artist:
Meisō (Japanese, active early 18th century)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
early 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
30 5/8 x 13 3/8 in. (77.8 x 34 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.171
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 231
The tiger has long been an auspicious symbol of power throughout Asia, in both popular culture and elite society. In East Asian art a tiger in a bamboo grove conveys the idea of a peaceful and harmonious society, strong leadership, and just government, as it is one of the few animals able to navigate the thick bamboo forest. With its almost whimsical treatment of the animal, this work resembles Korean tiger paintings of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910); however, the loose, free brushwork is more characteristic of Japanese renditions of the subject. The artist, Meisō, was almost certainly a Japanese monk-painter. An eighteenth-century monk named Shitaku Junka, about whom little is known, composed the inscribed poem.
Signature: The poem inscribed on this painting presents a Zen interpretation of the tiger as a symbol of one who ventures to embark on the true path to enlightenment:

The recluse in a mountain cottage
And the fabled puma in the Southern Mountain
Indulge themselves in hiding from the world.
The tiger does not lose his way here.
Suddenly, at the painter's hands,
He attains complete existence.


Signature of artist and two seals

Inscription: Inscribed by Buddhist priest Sa-t'aik
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection," June 13, 2017–February 4, 2018.

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