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Standing Portrait of Emperor T'ai-tsung Lao-tzu Riding a Blue Ox Great Master, Kuan-yin
Lohan Pu-tai Great Master, SamantabhadraPeach Assembly of Immortals


Standing Portrait of Emperor T'ai-tsung
Anonymous, period unspecified
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 101.2 x 51.4 cm


   Li Shih-min (598-649), known by the posthumous imperial name as T'ai-tsung, was the emperor who consolidated rule in the T'ang dynasty, a time of great prosperity and contact with other cultures in China's history.

In Journey to the West, T'ai-tsung consented to save the Ching River Dragon King, but he could not prevent Wei Cheng from beheading it. The Dragon King harassed T'ai-tsung to "give back" its life, resulting in the emperor taking fright and falling ill, his soul wandering the Halls of the Underworld. After returning to the mortal world, Emperor T'ai-tsung held rites for the release of land and water spirits that had been wronged. The bodhisattva Kuan-yin also came to preach Buddhism, telling him of this religion in India, in which one was able to reverse wrongs and avert calamities. The monk Hsüan-tsang then informed T'ai-tsung that he could go and was thus ordered to journey west to India for original scriptures.
Standing Portrait of Emperor T'ai-tsung
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