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Luohan Laundering

Lin Tinggui , (Chinese, active late 12th century)
Southern Song dynasty

Ink and color on silk
H: 112.3 W: 53.5 cm

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1902.224

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Illustrating a scene from the daily life of Buddhist monks, this painting belongs to a set of one hundred hanging scrolls depicting the five hundred luohan, or Buddhist saints. The set of paintings was commissioned by a Buddhist abbot in 1175 and completed by Lin Tinggui and another painter three years later. The paintings were transported to Japan in the thirteenth century and eventually became the property of the Daitokuji, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. In 1894 the Daitokuji, in need of funds for repairs, exhibited forty-four of the scrolls in Boston, where 10 of the paintings were sold. The Japanese presented this painting in gratitude to the tour's American organizer, who sold it in 1902 to Charles Lang Freer.

Lin Tinggui painted the six figures with precise outlines and bright, opaque colors. The five luohan and their servant are shown washing their clothes and hanging them out to dry. Written in gold and almost completely invisible, a signed inscription by the artist appears in the lower right corner.

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

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