|Great Master, Samantabhadra
Anonymous, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 156.6 x 94 cm
Samantabhadra is an attendant bodhisattva of Shakyamuni Buddha, the other being Manjusri. Important bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon, Manjusri rides a lion on the left, representing wisdom. Samantabhadra rides a white elephant on the right and is in charge of reason. Appearing on either side, they represent the accommodation of both wisdom and reason in the Buddhist faith. This image is in the form of a monk, which, according to custom, makes it more accessible to lay Buddhists. Many of the demons that appear Journey to the West are related to Buddhism. In chapters 74 to 77, for example, the T'ang Monk (Tripitaka) and disciples were passing by Lion Camel Peak when they encountered three demons. The T'ang Monk was captured and tied up to be cooked. It was said that eating the flesh of the T'ang Monk would ensure immortality. The Monkey King, after talking with them for a while, found out that the lion and elephant demons among them originally were the blue lion and white elephant mounts of the Bodhisattvas Manjusri and Samantabhadra. He thereupon called upon these two figures to come and take their mounts away.