Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Sketch of an "Inviting Rain" Mandala

Heian period (794–1185)
12th century
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Overall: 59 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. (151.1 x 65.4 cm) Overall with mounting: 59 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (151.1 x 69.9 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:
Not on view
This unusual mandala, a sketch from a compendium of esoteric Buddhist images, set in the watery world of dragon kings, was used in rites to end drought. Interestingly, there are no known polychrome or highly finished versions of this type of mandala, though they are recorded as having been used in sutra-reading services performed by monks from the Tōji and Daigoji temples in Kyoto as early as the ninth century. Perhaps these diagrams were made each time an extraordinary plea for rain was required. The transcendent repose of the bodhisattva Monju (Sanskrit: Manjushri), seated on a garuda bird and cloud at the center, is particularly striking amid the serpents and swirls of water that surround him. The text from which this visualization is drawn is known in Japanese as the Daiunrinshōukyō.
[ Harry G. C. Packard , Tokyo, until 1975; donated and sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.

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