This painting may have been part of a pair depicting a tiger and a dragon. Tiger-and-dragon pairs were common, as together the two images represented opposing principles found in nature. The dragon represented water and the East, whereas the tiger represented wind and the West.
Though not found in Japan, tigers were a favored subject of many Japanese painters who regarded Chinese painting as their model. Aigai Takaku and other Japanese painters of the Nanga (Southern Painting) School were deeply inspired by Chinese painting and frequently borrowed images and motifs from it.