Year of the Tiger

Item #





Qing Late 19th Century


Ink & pigment on paper




overall 85" x 20" (216 x 51 cm); image 51" x 11-5/8" (129 x 29 cm)





There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, everyone that is born will have an animal identification. There are books that tell about the personalities and characteristics of people born in those particular years. It is an intriguing and interesting thing that people discuss and talk about. The following painting refers to an animal year. However the story that is related is not reflecting the character or personality of a person born in that year, but is simply a story in Chinese literature that came to mind with the artist who drew this painting. He was undoubtedly a scholar who loved to draw and used the excuse of creating a series of zodiac related paintings. That artist's name was Wang Su. The paintings were done in the late 19th century, before the end of the Qing Dynasty
This painting refers to the year of the tiger. It is the story of a monk who came to visit a very famous and hospitable scholar. While he was with the scholar, the scholar asked the monk if he didn't have servants to help him. The monk said that he did, and with that he called 2 names. In came 2 very large tigers. These were his servants. It is not uncommon in paintings and stories of Chinese holy men that they are shown or portrayed in the company of wild beasts such as tigers. The Chinese believe that if the man is very holy his natural rhythms are so harmonious with nature that none of the beasts of the wild will harm him. They consider him as simply another part of the harmonious force of the universe.



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