Oct 23, 2013
May 26, 2006
Oct 23, 2013

Dragon; Tiger

Dragon; Tiger


c. 1250–1279

Part of a set. See all set records

Fachang Muqi 法常 牧谿

(Chinese, 1220–1280)

Pair of hanging scrolls; ink on silk

Painting: 125.2 x 57.2 cm (49 5/16 x 22 1/2 in.); Overall: 226.8 x 71.8 cm (89 5/16 x 28 1/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1958.427


The dragon and tiger are tied to the philosophical concept of yin and yang, which describes opposite but complementary forces. The dragon occupies a tiered background of waves and mist. Its luminous head emerges from the darker passages, and its narrow twisting body is serpent-like. By contrast, the close-up view of the tiger emphasizes its bulk. The tiger bends its head to lick its paw while its tail curls in the foreground.

In their original Chan Buddhist context, this pair of scrolls likely flanked a central image, like the Bodhisattva Guanyin. The silk has darkened over the centuries, and the slight reddish shading in the tiger’s tongue and nose has faded.

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