In deep mountains, a tigress, two cubs, and a leopard welcome the early morning sun. This is not merely a playful scene but a well calculated image with symbols of longevity (pine trees), prosperity (tigress and cubs), and good fortune (leopard). Traditionally, on New Year’s Eve, the image of a fearsome-looking tiger was pasted on entrance doors to ward off evil spirits. Conventional Korean tiger paintings often include frolicking magpies, but here, the crimson sun is placed behind a majestic pine. Through the sunrise and the details of the felines’ skin shines the artist’s keen interest in creating a realistic atmosphere.

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  • Title: Tiger Family
  • Date Created: late 1800s
  • Physical Dimensions: Image: 170 x 90.4 cm (66 15/16 x 35 9/16 in.); Overall: 262.5 x 115.1 cm (103 3/8 x 45 5/16 in.)
  • Provenance: (Kozo Mabumoto 藪本公三, Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1997.148
  • Medium: hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
  • Fun Fact: A great number of tigers used to have live in the Korean peninsula. An old Chinese proverb says: “Korean people hunt tigers half of the year, and tigers hunt people other half of the year.”
  • Department: Korean Art
  • Culture: Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
  • Credit Line: Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
  • Collection: ASIAN - Hanging scroll
  • Accession Number: 1997.148

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