Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tyger Tyger, Burning Bright

2010 is the Year of the Tiger, and I like to celebrate these fierce and incredibly 
beautiful creatures through the painted scrolls of Itō Jakuchū (1716-1800), a masterful 
and innovative Japanese artist of the Edo period. His tigers strike me for their 
wonderful combination of elegance, expressiveness and power. Jakuchū usually 
painted animals from life, but since there were no tigers in Japan at the time, 
these portraits were copied from or inspired by Chinese artworks.

All of the artworks in this post belong to Etsuko and Joe Price, who were responsilbe 
for rediscovering Jakuchū and other Edo painters in the 1950s, a time when they were
 very little known or valued in Japan and abroad. In 2007 part of their impressive
 collection of screens and hanging scrolls toured major Japanese museums, and was 
later exhibited at the Smithsonian and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Jakuchū was a practicing Zen Buddhist, and many of his major works were created 
for Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines across Japan. In his old age he became a lay monk
 at the temple of Sekiho-ji in the outskirts of Kyoto. "In Zen thinking, the tiger represents
 a natural power that can be controlled through enlightenment seeking discipline. 
In the act of grooming, the tiger suggests a self-intention to move beyond a conflicted
 mental state and toward a focus of energy" (from the Smithsonian's exhibition website).


  1. Very expressive Tigers!
    Love your blog. Am so glad I stumbled over here :)

  2. I hope you don't mind, I just blogged about your incredible blog and how much it inspires me each time I visit here. Thank You!

  3. Thanks for your comments! I will be posting more beautiful anmals by Jakuchū in the future...

  4. Such great expressions on each tiger's face. Really lovely, thanks for sharing this!



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