White Heron and Lotus
One of a triptych with Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2002-193-1 and 2002-199-2
Kanō Naonobu, Japanese, 1607 - 1650
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Among the different white birds in East Asian countries, the white heron was considered one of the whitest. Thus it came to be a symbol of purity, as is the lotus. In China, herons were also a symbol of good fortune because "heron" (lu) and "good fortune" (lu) are pronounced the same, and in Japan the bird became one of the most popular subjects from the Muromachi period (1392-1573) onward. The triptych style developed in Chinese Buddhist art places a religious painting in the center and a pair of "flowers and birds" paintings such as this one on either side.