Power of the Spirit, the Sage and the Imagination
Image: Shin Nanbin "Old Pine and White Crane"
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In Japan, a variety of imaginary characters endowed with unique powers appear in many of the tales that have been passed down through the ages. Over time, these characters have come to be used in a variety of cultural contexts including as subject matter in artworks to convey religious meaning, the wish for long life, prosperity for one’s descendants, and other auspicious tidings. In the paintings and other artworks introduced here, we see such images as a dragon with the power to bring rain, a sage with supernatural powers and the goddess Bodhisattva transforming into a different form in response to a human prayer, bringing together a world of human hope and imagination.