In deep mountains where old pine trees grow, a tigress, her two cubs, and a leopard welcome the rising sun. This is not merely a playful scene of felines, but rather a well calculated image with auspicious symbols of longevity (pine trees), prosperity (tigress with her cubs), and good fortune (leopard). Traditionally on New Year’s Eve, the image of a fearsome-looking tiger along with that of a dragon was pasted on entrance doors to ward off evil spirits. However, paired with cubs and magpies, tigers came to be portrayed in a more playful and humorous manner fitting for festive occasions. The crimson rising sun suggests that this scroll may have been created to celebrate the new year.
(Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art).