Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 51 and 52

The second half of Kazunobu’s set opens with a group of ten paintings depicting the rakan’s supernatural powers. Extended across the continuous foreground is a river run dry. With the tap of a rakan’s cane, water gushes forth from rocks. Nearby, a rakan spouts water from his head in a startling feat of willpower. On the left, an apparently bottomless jug of water is tipped as the river bottom begins to fill, and eel and fish twitch back to life.

Meanwhile, more miracles unfold in the background. In the right scroll, a rakan sits meditating inside a cave. Three monkeys holding flowers watch his spirit separate from his emancipated body and float off on a cloud. In the left scroll, a rakan seated before a flaming mandorla peels off his face to reveal himself as Acala, or Fudō Myō’ō, the “Immovable One.”

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