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Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

The Twelvefold Dhuta Practice

Three rakan sit in meditation around an incense burner suspended from a tree's bizarre roots.
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Three rakan sit under the shadow of overhanging trees while across the swamp two more are settled before a stone pagoda in a graveyard.
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Twelvefold Dhuta Practice: Living under the Trees among Burial Grounds; Meditation on the Ground, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 49 and 50

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

Dhuta refers to ascetic practices aiming to eliminate one's need for food, clothing, and shelter. Aspects related to dwelling are "Hermitage," "Living among Burial Grounds," "Living under Trees," "Sitting in Open Ground," and "Sleeping Seated," all of which are combined in this pair of scrolls. In the right, three rakan sit under the shadow of overhanging trees while across the swamp two more are settled before a stone pagoda in a graveyard. Balloons conjure up their inward contemplation: corpses left to rot in an open field. A four-legged beast with a depraved expression lurks by.

To the left, a heavy moon casts an eerie glow on what appears to be mangroves. Three rakan sit in meditation around an incense burner suspended from the tree's bizarre roots. Kazunobu took interest in experimenting with Western techniques of naturalistic painting; however, his intense use of light and shadow seems to amplify the phantasmagorical quality of this striking work.