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Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

Navigating the Six Realms

The rakan look down upon this spectacle of clownish force.
Scroll 32 Zoom
A three-faced, multiple-armed Ashura, deity of wrath, holds red and white orbs representing sun and moon.
Scroll 31 Zoom

The Six Realms: Warring Spirits, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 31 and 32

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

In the right scroll, a three-faced, multiple-armed Ashura, deity of wrath, holds red and white orbs representing sun and moon. A celebrated eighth-century sculpture of this angry god is held at Kofukuji temple in Nara, which portrays him as a sensitive and melancholy youth. Kazunobu's Ashura could not be more different with his brazen, bellicose countenance.

A slasher film-worthy scene unfolds in the foreground of the left scroll. The stylized action and graphic violence recall the woodblock prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), a contemporary of Kazunobu. From above, the rakan look down upon this spectacle of clownish force. It appears they have already washed their hands of these hopeless beings.



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.