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Buffalo and Herdsman

Artist:
Kawanabe Kyōsai (Japanese, 1831–1889)
Period:
Meiji period (1868–1912)
Date:
ca. 1887
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Album leaf; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
14 1/4 x 10 1/2 in. (36.2 x 26.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Charles Stewart Smith Collection, Gift of Mrs. Charles Stewart Smith, Charles Stewart Smith Jr., and Howard Caswell Smith, in memory of Charles Stewart Smith, 1914
Accession Number:
14.76.61.16
Not on view
One of the most engaging of Zen (Ch'an) Buddhist instructional tales is the "Ten Scenes with an Ox" (Jugyuzu), a Southern Song invention. The story of an ox-herding boy in search of his lost charge is an analogy for discipline and enlightenment as the wayward ox, standing for the self, is found, roped, and led home. Appealing as genre scenes, the fifth scene, of the ox being led by the boy (religious training), and the sixth scene, of the boy riding the ox toward home (the two as one), are often repeated apart from the set.

Kawanabe Kyosai trained in the Kano studios and was well acquainted with popular Chinese themes in Japanese painting. His eccentric point of view makes even the most academic and conventionally executed of his works compelling.
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