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Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

Supernatural Powers

A begging bowl is held up to raise a black cloud that rains down stones on Ashura fighting in the distance.
Scroll 58 Zoom
The potbellied rakan in the foreground has been cast as Hotei, the folkloric Chinese deity of plenitude and contentment, often represented with adoring children.
Scroll 57 Zoom

Supernatural Powers, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 57 and 58

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

The potbellied rakan in the foreground has been cast as Hotei, the folkloric Chinese deity of plenitude and contentment, often represented with adoring children. Here he makes lotus flowers grow magically out of a begging bowl, to the rapt delight of his audience. In an echoing of his gesture, the bowl is held up again in the left scroll, this time to raise a black cloud that rains down stones on Ashura fighting in the distance. While the rakan had looked on passively in scrolls 31 and 32, they now employ their supernatural powers to end the incessant warring.

A detail of note is a figure in the right scroll gaping up at the sky as a dragon spits out a flaming jewel. Kazunobu used cartoonish foreshortening to depict his face, closing the gap between the eyes and nose. Such foreshortenings appear repeatedly throughout the set, giving visual accent to his compositions.