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painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. Arhat Handaka Sonja: wearing monastic robe with shaven head and large earrings; poking with finger little dragon emanating from begging bowl in middle of rain cloud. Ink and slight colour on paper. Signed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1848-1854 (c.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 125 centimetres
    • Width: 51.2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

        一勇齋 / 國芳
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Ichiyusai / Kuniyoshi
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Hantaka (S:Pantaka) has a bowl from which emerges a dragon or raincloud. His monk's robes, shaven head and large earrings are common to all depictions of arhats, but in the Ukiyo-e artist Kuniyoshi's playful composition monk and dragon are shown staring each other down. (label copy, TTC, 1998)Clark 1992

    Handaka Sonja (Sanskrit: Panthaka) is one of the sixteen 'arhats', or disciples of the Buddha Sakyamuni, beings credited with supernatural powers who practise and protect the faith between the time of his death and the coming of of [sic] Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. All of the 'arhats' wear similar monastic robes and are depicted as old men with shaven heads and large earrings, but Handaka's particular attribute is a bowl from which emerges a dragon or rain cloud. Paintings from as far back as the end of the Heian period (twelfth century) show him with a fierce countenance seated on a rock holding a sacred jewel and with a dragon curled around his feet trying to get the jewel.

    As might be expected from an artist of Kuniyoshi's playful temperament, the subject is given a somewhat irreverent treatment: the scowling monk pokes with his finger the equally ferocious little dragon that has just emanated from his begging bowl in the middle of the rain cloud, and the two attempt to stare each other down. The monk's emaciated shoulder echoes the shape of the bony protrusion on his head, and the drapery of his robes is formed into eccentric coils. Though large and quickly painted, the figure combines freely executed strokes in a wide variety of ink tones with a sure grasp of form.

    Robinson, Basil, 'Kuniyoshi'. London, HMSO, 1961, no. 98.Asahi 1996





  • Bibliography

    • Clark 1992 158 bibliographic details
    • Asahi 1996 95 bibliographic details
    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 BW 54 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2009 Mar 21-Jun 07, London, The Royal Academy of Arts, 'Kuniyoshi'
    2010 12 Mar-13 Jun, New York, Japan Society, ‘Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. MillerCollection’

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.

  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1569 (Japanese Painting Number)


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Object reference number: JCF5141

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