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Recumbent Bull

Soga Shohaku, Japanese, 1730 - 1781

Made in Japan, Asia

Edo Period (1615-1868)

c. 1775

Ink on paper; mounted as a hanging scroll

52 1/4 × 21 inches (132.7 × 53.3 cm) Mount: 6 feet 9 1/2 inches × 26 inches (207 × 66 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the New Members Fund, 1971

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This drawing of a recumbent bull suggests the legend of Sugawara Michizane, who was a gifted scholar. Because of the jealousy caused by his achievement, Michizane was exiled and died after two years of solitary life. On the way to the cemetery, the bull drawing the court carriage that contained the scholar's ashes suddenly stopped and refused to move. Seeing this as an omen, Michizane's retainers dug a grave and buried the scholar at this site, where they founded the temple of Tenjin in his honor.