Jūichimen Kannon on Mount Fudaraka

Kamakura period (1185–1333)
13th century
Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
Image: 42 1/2 × 16 1/8 in. (108 × 41 cm) Overall with mounting: 71 3/4 × 22 3/4 in. (182.2 × 57.8 cm) Overall with knobs: 71 3/4 × 24 3/8 in. (182.2 × 61.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Described in the sutras as a mountainous island in the southern sea, Mount Fudaraka (Sanskrit: Potalaka) is said to be the residence of the bodhisattva Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara). This place was popularly identified in China as an island off the coast of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. Because Ningbo was the main port of entry for ships from Japan during the medieval period, the cult became known in Japan and was eventually assimilated into syncretic mountain worship shugendō) there. Certain sacred Japanese mountains, such as Kumano and Kasuga, came to be revered as Pure Land abodes of Kannon, who is viewed as an emanation of the Buddha Amida (Sanskrit: Amitâbha). In this case, the bodhisattva is shown with eleven heads (jūichimen), one of the most commonly depicted of the deity's thirty-three forms.

    Here, details of the landscape, such as the spring blossoms and autumn leaves, reflect the painting's role as a virtual pilgrimage to the sacred site, which is approached by a supernatural boatman to the right and the daughter of the Dragon King who emerges from the sea at left. Kannon's luminous form is rendered by the painstaking technique of applying color to the reverse of the silk. That aspect, as well as the brushwork and the formal composition, suggests the hand of a thirteenth-century painter with formal influences from Song-dynasty China.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History