Hotei was a Chan (Japanese: Zen) monk living in China during the 900s who, in the 1300s, became a legendary figure in Japan. At that time a popular cult praising him sprang up, extending beyond Zen to other religious communities. This rare triptych embraces a central Zen icon with flanking Daoist images, thereby suggesting the compatibility, rather than the exclusivity, of these two creeds. Hotei also enjoys popularity in Japan as a kind of genre, or folk figure, which explains his mirthful expression in Japanese paintings. The Daoist figures in contrast appear eccentric and foreign-looking, in keeping with Daoist lore. When these paintings came to the museum their appearance was compromised by poor quality textile mountings and cracked paper surfaces deserving of restoration. The fact that these scrolls constituted an integral set that properly had to be shown as a unit heightened the need to stabilize their condition and improve their presentation for museum visitors. A complete remounting of each scroll occurred following the cleaning of the paper surfaces and the repair of the lifting surface areas. No inpainting was done, thereby preserving the original ink values and brushstrokes.
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