Sakyamuni, Lao Tzu, and Confucius

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 61.5 x 59.9 cm (24 3/16 x 23 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Buddhism, China, Confucius, Daoism, Laozi, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

To 1916
Li Wenqing (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1916 [1]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing, in New York, in 1916 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1281, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, LVC Catalogue, 1915, No. 79.

[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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869-1931


After the blending of the Three Philosophies--Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism--was initiated in the tenth century, the interpretation of this unity became an increasing popular theme in painting during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). In this work, Confucius approaches from the right, folding his hands in a bow to Shakyamuni Buddha, who wears a red robe and can be easily identified by his ushinisha, a cranial protuberance symbolizing wisdom. Holding a roll of his Daodejing (The Classic of the Way and Virtue), Laozi stands behind Shakyamuni with a warm smile across his face. The depiction of the three founders in such harmony conveys a thought prevalent during the mid-Ming period, when this painting was created.

Published References
  • Laurence William Faucett. The Young Gotama: A Realistic Reconstruction of the Early Life of Sakyamuni, Showing the Spirituality and Gentleness of the Founder of Buddhism. Tokyo. pp. 98-99.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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