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DARING Horikin practiced in his early years on his wife, experimenting with colors and techniques he would later perfect and become famous for. Her pale skin makes the colors particularly vibrant, and it is false modesty on his part to regard this early example of his work as "unsophisticated." Over the stomach, between the peony breasts and the peony navel, sits the all-powerful, all-protective Chinese lion, benevolent and kindly but a fierce defender, symbolic of courage and fortitude. Guardian Korean dogs adorn each hip and perhaps ensure fidelity or safety in childbirth. One macabre note: mounds of skulls rest atop the breasts. Overleaf: Detail of the peony navel and guardian Chinese lion.
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