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Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

Visiting the Dragon Palace

The rakan are transported by octopus, prawn, horse, lion, and even a lotus petal.
Scroll 72 Zoom
Two seated rakan at right—the first sewing, the second making notations.
Scroll 71 Zoom

Visiting the Dragon Palace, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 71 and 72

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

The rakan have set off to find the Dragon Palace. This wonderland destination under the sea where time stands still was popularized in the Japanese folktale Urashima Taro, in which the hero is led there by a turtle he had saved. Here, instead of riding sea turtles, the rakan are transported by octopus, prawn, horse, lion, and even a lotus petal. The dragon and tiger, a staple motif, also become vehicles, the rendering of the latter suggesting the painting style of Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Two seated rakan at right—the first sewing, the second making notations—allude to another familiar pair from the iconography of Zen ink painting.