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All three figures are fictional characters in the Suikoden (Chinese: Shuǐ hǔ zhuàn 水滸伝, or The Water Margin, considered one of China’s four greatest novels). Chō Sei (Zhāng Qīng) is an imperial officer who has steadily defeated the Liangshan Marsh outlaws. Tei Tokuson (Dīng Désūn) and Kyō Ō (Gōng Wàng) are his deputies. Zhāng’s nickname, “Featherless Arrow,” derives from his ability to fling stones that stun and injure his opponents. Kyō (running in the foreground) had tiger stripes tattooed all over his body, with a tiger’s head tattooed on his neck. The nickname of Tei (in the upper right, with his left arm raised and right arm outstretched) refers to the battle scars that covered his face and neck. The brilliant composition is a wonderfully convoluted interlocking of patterns and forms, so energized that even the hairs of the horse’s mane seem charged with electricity.
Mrs. Kate Kiser Klein; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1972.