late 1200s–early 1300s
Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink and slight color on paper
Painting: 27.1 x 31.9 cm (10 11/16 x 12 9/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1952.286
We know the original scroll had ten bulls because a copy of the complete scroll exists.
Across the world, animals once played a much larger role in the transportation of the elite. Members of Japan’s imperial court traveled in vehicles pulled by oxen until the late 1400s, when oxcarts were restricted to ceremonial use. One sign of the past importance of the ox as a status symbol survives in this fragment from a scroll of portraits of 10 speedy bulls. The painter layered washes containing differing ratios of black ink to water to create a three-dimensional effect.
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