Tiger with cubs and magpies

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 15th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 165 × 95.2 cm (65 × 37 1/2 in)
China, Possibly Zhejiang province
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, magpie, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), pine tree, tiger, tree

To 1911
Riu Cheng Chai, Beijing, to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Riu Cheng Chai, Beijing, in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 810, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Riu Cheng Chai (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


A tiger standing protectively over her cubs seems to ignore two magpies scolding from the branches of a pine tree. When combined as the subject of paintings, tigers are messengers of the mountain spirit and magpies are the envoys of the shrine deities that protect house hold and community. Paintings with this motif were displayed in doorways of Korean homes at the New Year to ward off evil. Court artists painted the theme on silk, as in this example, while itinerant painters serving village households used mulberry paper.

Published References
  • Cha-yong Cho, Emileh Museum, Korea, Horay Zozayong. Guardians of Happiness: Shamanistic Tradition in Korean Folk Painting. Exh. cat. Seoul. .
  • Eom So Yeon. Minhwa: A Precious Look at Traditional Korean Life. vol. 6, no. 3 Seoul, Autumn 1992. .
  • Michael Wickman. Korean Folk Paintings. vol. 10, no. 12 Hong Kong, December 1979. .
  • Robert Sayers. Sun and Moon: Traditional Arts of Yi Dynasty Korea. Exh. cat. San Francisco, September 3 - October 30, 1988. .
  • Robert Moes. Auspicious Spirits: Korean Folk Paintings and Related Objects. vol. 14, no. 9 Hong Kong, September 1983. .
  • Kay E. Black. Religious Aspects of Folk Painting. vol. 2, no. 2, June 1981. .
  • Dietrich Seckel. Some Characteristics of Korean Art II: Preliminary Remarks on Yi Dynasty Painting. vol. 25, no. 1 London, Spring 1979. pp. 62-73.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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