An embroidered silk uchishiki featuring the monk Bukan riding a tiger through the waves. Hemp back-lining has stain. Although there are several inconspicuous defects, the overall effect is of excellent condition: the good state of preservation was most probably due to the fact that this textile has spent most of it's life hidden by an accompanying cushion and protective cloth wrap (cushion likely same age as uchishiki, while wrapping cloth is of 20th c vintage). This item came from same family and temple as item 2330. 26" x 26". Bukan was an eccentric six-foot-tall Zen Buddhist monk of the 7th century who reportedly when asked about philosophy or Buddhism, would mutter, "whatever". The tiger was not native to Japan. It was introduced at the same time as the Buddhist religion, from India and China. It came to symbolize strength. The Japanese believe it to be of divine origin and to have descended to earth from the constellation of the Great Bear. It thus occupies a supernatural place in Japanese mythology, like the phoenix and dragon, which stands for the living vitality of nature.
Bukan's ability to tame the tiger represents the power of his knowledge. Bukan riding and being in full control of his tiger signifies a human being in full control of its passions and emotions.