Swift Bull from the Ten Swift Bulls

Swift Bull from the Ten Swift Bulls

駿牛図 断簡

c. 1275-1333

Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink and slight color on paper

Overall: 27.1 x 31.9 cm (10 11/16 x 12 9/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1952.286



This painting is a fragment cut from a horizontal scroll depicting ten bulls in various postures. The whereabouts of seven of the ten bulls are known, and all have been remounted in a similar hanging scroll fashion. The original scroll probably celebrated prize creatures from the provinces, or perhaps it illustrated a court ritual or religious procession. Bulls are primal symbols of fertility, prosperity, and natural power subdued, and they enjoy some prominence in Buddhist iconography. So these images, especially when taken from their original context and repurposed as individual paintings, invariably lend themselves to multiple interpretations.

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