Past Exhibitions

An Immortal Gathering
December 19, 2017 - January 21, 2018

Many East Asian cultures have stories of mythological hermits (J: sennin) who live together in the mountains away from worldly affairs. Through their training, they achieve not only eternal life but also a variety of supernatural powers. The image of the immortal was particularly idealized within the traditional Chinese religion of Taoism. While Taoism itself was never widely practiced in Japan, its influence can be found in a surprising number of Japanese customs (such as the tradition of giving mid-summer gifts, or ochūgen, which derives from an annual Taoist ritual). Taoist immortals have always been popular subjects for paintings in Japan, where they symbolized the wish for or the celebration of longevity. In the early modern period, such images grew even more popular with the publication or import of compendiums of iconographic drawings depicting these mystical beings.

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