Chinese, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period
hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
53½ x 22 x 12¾ in
135.89 x 55.88 x 32.39 cm
Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
According to Hindu legend, King Sagara (“water”in Sanskrit) governed the ancient city of Ayodhya and the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India in the 7th century BC. This painting depicts the victorious king descending from clouds with his monsterlike attendants who hold exotic tributes and ocean treasures. The scene is associated with the Buddhist water-and-land ritual in which paintings of gods, human beings, and demons are presented at a ceremony for the salvation of all beings. Developed in the 12th century during the Song dynasty, this ritual was a favorite in the Ming and Qing courts. An inscription at the lower right indicates the scroll was commissioned by the imperial prince. According to its style, this painting was most likely commissioned by Prince Yunlu (1695–1767), a court official in charge of rituals, music, and publications in the Qing court.