Rakan and Oni
MediumInk, pigment on silk
DimensionsImage : 53 x 30 3/4 in. (1.3 m x 78.11 cm)
Frame : 65 x 36 1/2 in. (1.7 m x 92.71 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
LabelRakan is the Japanese name for Buddhist saints who have achieved enlightenment and vowed to protect the Buddha’s teachings and transmit them to future generations. Oni are mischievous demons from Japanese folklore that are thought to cause trouble and bring bad luck. This painting of an oni hovering above a rakan may be understood as a metaphor for the temptations and weaknesses that distract all humans from the ways of truth and righteousness. The painting may originally have hung in the meditation hall of a Buddhist temple. The bold brushwork reflects a style that was brought to Japan from China by Buddhist monks in the 15th century.