Tani Bunchō (Japanese, 1763-1840)

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Xiama (literally, "toad") was formerly a high-ranking official named Liu Haichan. After meeting a Daoist master, he resigned his post and gave away his property and eventually became a Daoist sage. The three-legged toad on his back could mystically convey him wherever he wished to go.

Li Tieguai, once a proud and vigorous man, could leave his body to travel, as shown here. On one such occasion, however, his followers thought he had actually died and cremated his body. When he returned, he had no choice but to inhabit the body of a beggar who had died by the roadside.

The son of a samurai serving relatives of the shōgun, the artist Tani Bunchō enjoyed both status and influential patronage. He studied every known style of painting of his day, including Kano, Nanga, and even Western-style painting. He also made copies of ancient paintings, like these by the Yuan dynasty artist Yan Hui, owned by the Chion-in, a temple in Kyoto.

Rosemarie and Leighton Longhi, New York; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2000

Object Information

Tani Bunchō (Japanese, 1763-1840)
creation date
ink and light color on silk
45-5/8 x 26 in. (image)
89-1/2 x 35-1/8 in. (mounting without knobs)
91 x 35-1/8 x 1-1/4 in. (installed with knobs)
2 x 35-1/8 in. (rolled)
mark descriptions
Signed: Buncho ga
Seal: Bunsei mizunoe uma Buncho ga in
accession number
credit line
Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton Longhi
Public Domain
Asian Art

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