The Majestic Tiger
Tigers have long been an important animal in Chinese culture. They were thought to represent “yin” in Taoism and were associated with the wind and the Western direction. Buddhism brought in additional symbolism of royalty, courage, strength, and sacrifice. The tiger is also the third animal in the Chinese zodiac and considered to be the ruler of all land animals.
Tiger portraits were usually composed in two ways – uphill and downhill. Uphill tiger paintings showcased the animal’s majesty. The tiger would have a relaxed posture and there would be lots of foliage, which created a mood of calm beauty.
Downhill paintings highlighted the beast’s ferocious strength. These were set among sharp rocks and cliffs. The tiger would be either crouching, ready-to-pounce, or mid-leap grabbing at prey. One can almost hear it roar in these paintings.