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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Dragon Tamer Luohan

Photo: Paul Macapia

Dragon Tamer Luohan

ca. 14th century

With an electric stare and breath escaping through gritted teeth, this monk exerts his miraculous power of concentration to summon a dragon from the heavens—in order to capture it. Dragons are long associated with life-giving, spring rains. Dragon-quellers like this one were believed able to prevent droughts and control floods. Luohans (also known as Arhats) were the original disciples of the Buddha and were also enlightened beings—each was known for various distinctive pursuits and supernatural powers. You can pray to Luohans in Buddhist temples for enlightenment or, more practically, for rainfall and a good harvest.
Wood with polychrome decoration
41 x 30 x 22 in. (104.14 x 76.2 x 55.88 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryLondon, England, Yamanaka & Co., 1935-36.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle World's Fair, Fine Arts Pavillion, Art in Ancient East, 1962.

Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Gift to a City: Masterworks from the Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection in the Seattle Art Museum, Nov. 3 - 28, 1965. Cat. no. 42.

Atlanta, Georgia, High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games Cultural Olympiad, Rings: Five Passions in World Art, July - Aug. 1996.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Timeless Grandeur: Art from China, Apr. 25, 2002 - June 12, 2005.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesFuller, Richard E. "Seattle Art Museum." Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1946; p. 16.

Handbook, "Seattle Art Museum: Selected Works from the Permanent Collections." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1951; p. 64 (b&w).

"Gift to a City." Exh. Cat. Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum, 1965; no. 42, illus. inside front cover.

"Selected Works." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991; p. 161.

Brown, J. Carter "Rings: Five Passions In World Art." Atlanta, Georgia: High Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, 1996, in conjunction with the Summer Olympic Games; p.180.

"Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures." London: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007; pp. 72-73, illus. p. 73.

Kangas, Matthew. "Relocations: Selected Art Essays and Interviews." 2008, p. 54.

"Contact: The Study Society Newsletter." No. 60, Spring 2013, illus. pg. 25,

Waugh, Daniel C. "The Arts of China in Seattle." The Silk Road, vol. 12 (2014): pp. 137-152, reproduced p. 140, fig. 8.

Kiley, Brendan. "Seattle Asian Art Museum is set to reopen – 3 years and $56 million later." Seattle Times, February 2, 2020: p. E4, reproduced. [A version of this article appears online on January 30, 2020 with the headline: "Step inside the reinvented Seattle Asian Art Museum, set to reopen after 3 years,"]

Foong, Ping, Xiaojin Wu, and Darielle Mason. "An Asian Art Museum Transformed." Orientations vol. 51, no. 3 (May/June 2020): pp. 61-63, reproduced fig. 23.

Laskin, David. "In Seattle, It's Almost Normal." The New York Times, September 1, 2022: reproduced,

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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