Three Animals Help Buddhist Guardian Deity Taishakuten 1885
Kono Bairei （1844-1895）
In this painting, an old man sits on a boulder at the water’s edge deep in the mountains. A monkey harvests nuts and a fox catches fish for the old man, while the rabbit is at his wit’s end with his red eyes wide open. Later, the rabbit jumps into the fire built by the monkey and the fox, in order to sacrifice himself for the old man. As it turns out, the old man is a manifestation of the Buddhist deity Śakra, who was deeply impressed by the rabbit’s action, and sends him to the moon for eternity in recognition of his compassion. The painting depicts a scene from this legend, commonly known as “the Rabbit in the Moon.”
Pigment on silk; hanging scroll
146.5 × 71.5 cm
Kono Bairei was born in Kyoto Prefecture. He studied under Nakajima Raisho and Shiokawa Bunrin. He devoted himself to establish the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting, which was the predecessor of today’s Kyoto City University of Arts. Kono painted flowers and birds as well as a diverse array of works based on intellectual compositions.
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