The Three Laughers of Tiger Ravine

Soga Shōhaku (Japanese, 1730-1781)

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This allegorical painting features the Buddhist monk Huiyuan (334–416) in front, the poet Tao Yuanming (365–417), and the Daoist Lu Xiujing (406–477). Huiyuan lived secluded from the mundane world at Donglin Temple on Mt. Lu and had vowed never to cross the bridge over Tiger Ravine, which marked the border of the sanctuary. One day the other two visited his retreat. Absorbed in conversation while seeing his visitors off, Huiyuan inadvertently crossed the bridge. The painting captures the moment of realization when the three burst out in laughter.

This depiction also emphasizes the unity and harmony of the three characters, who represent Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. Laughing joyously, they wrap their arms around and hold onto one another tightly.

Object Information

artist
Soga Shōhaku (Japanese, 1730-1781)
period
Edo
creation date
1730-1781
materials
ink, paper
dimensions
48 x 21 7/8 in. (image)
78 1/2 x 29 7/8 in. (overall)
mark descriptions
Signed: Shikibu Nyudo Jasokusai Shohaku
Seal: Jasokusai Shohaku
accession number
2000.56
credit line
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Crane Fund
copyright
Public Domain
collection
Asian Art
colors

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