A Pride of Lions: More Untamed Beauty in Japanese Art

December 18, 2007 – March 16, 2008

While the tiger as a motif in Japanese art may seem unusual in view of the absence of suitable models from Japan, at least this creature’s habitat existed on the nearby East Asian mainland. The lion, on the other hand, was a native of far-off Africa, yet it figured more prominently in Japanese art—if in a more idealized form—than did the tiger. Knowledge of the lion entered Japan more than a thousand years ago when the Chinese practice of using sculpted lions as palace guardian figures was adopted by the Japanese court for important Shinto shrines. This exhibition is intended to complement the concurrent show, Untamed Beauty, and draws principally from Morikami’s own collection. It explores the uses of lion images as guardian figures and for rites of exorcism.

The exhibition includes sculpture, paintings, architectural ornamentation, props for folk dance, folk toys and more. It is funded in part by the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation and by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council.