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Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

Fantastic Monasticism

A rakan with overgrown eyebrows stands with his palms together before a pink-robed rakan reading a sutra scroll.
Scroll 2 Zoom
A gaunt and elderly rakan gossips with a youthful rakan holding a peacock fan.
Scroll 1 Zoom

Daily Life, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 1 and 2

Kano Kazunobu (1816–63)
Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1854–63
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Collection, Zōjōji, Tokyo

The opening section of this exhibition offers windows into the daily life and rituals of the rakan. At right, a gaunt and elderly rakan gossips with a youthful rakan holding a peacock fan. Before them, an acolyte hashes medicinal herbs while another turns out ground powder from a boat-shaped vessel. A rakan in a chair seated in half-lotus position is about to sample the freshly prepared incense. While the motif of acolytes working a mortar and pestle was frequently seen in medieval rakan painting, Kazunobu's treatment is remarkable for its vivid coloring, intricate detail, and vigor of expression.

To the left, a rakan with overgrown eyebrows stands with his palms together before a pink-robed rakan reading a sutra scroll. In the middle ground, a rakan offers a white garment to a beggar in rags. In the distance, a rakan with the head of a bull reposes by a river. He has removed his shoes to wash his feet, which appear to be hooves.



As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.