Dragon; Tiger


c. 1250–79

Fachang Muqi 法常 牧谿

(Chinese, 1220–1280)
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.)
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Did You Know?

Fachang Muqi's ink paintings on Chan (or Zen in Japanese) themes were very popular in Japan.


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.
Dragon; Tiger

Dragon; Tiger

c. 1250–79

Fachang Muqi

(Chinese, 1220–1280)
China, Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)

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