Shakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains, with Dragon and Tiger

Kano Sansetsu Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 226

This triptych of scrolls centers on a pivotal moment in the historical Buddha’s personal spiritual development, as he emerges from the wilderness after an extended period of ascetic practice. Emaciated, with an unkempt beard, he is supported by two powerful beasts of heaven and earth commonly seen in Zen Buddhist pictures and spaces. At right a dragon bursts forth from a swirl of murky clouds, while at left a tiger tiptoes out of the shadows of a grove. Kano Sansetsu, a leading painter in Kyoto in the 1630s and 1640s and a central figure in Japan’s most prominent painting school, was devoted to the study of classical Chinese and Japanese pictures. While he was not a monk, his art draws on older Chinese and Japanese Zen images that were familiar to his sophisticated Kyoto audience of Zen priests and their wealthy patrons.

Shakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains, with Dragon and Tiger, Kano Sansetsu (Japanese, 1590–1651), Triptych of hanging scrolls; ink on paper, Japan

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