Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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仏伝図 頻毘沙羅王帰依
Life of the Buddha: King Bimbisara's Conversion

Period:
Muromachi period (1392–1573)
Date:
early 15th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Section from a cycle of eight scenes from the life of the Buddha; ink, color, and gold on silk
Dimensions:
29 1/2 x 43 7/8 in. (75 x 111.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Alvin Friedman-Kien, 1993
Accession Number:
1993.478.4
Not on view
After Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, was enlightened, he became a wandering teacher, delivering the message that life is suffering from which one can be released through spiritual cultivation and compassionate behavior toward all living things. This painting, from a set of eight depicting milestones in the life of the Buddha, illustrates the conversion of King Bimbisara at Vulture Peak. The Buddha is shown in deified form seated on a lotus pedestal, with his right hand raised in the gesture that indicates teaching. The lotus pedestal symbolizes the purity of Buddhist wisdom, which grows like a lotus flower from the muddy waters of delusion. All of nature—clouds, streams, and mountains—seems to emanate from his glowing figure to manifest the teaching. Heavenly beings fly from above to hear him as he sits surrounded by followers from all realms of existence. His monastic followers stand behind haloed bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who, like the Buddha in his former lives, remain in the world to help others reach enlightenment. Armored figures of the Four Guardian Kings, who protect the teaching throughout the four quarters, flank King Bimbisara and his attendants. Tiny golden wheels above their heads symbolize the Dharma, the Buddhist Law.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art in Early Japan," 1999–2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: A Decade of Collecting Japanese Art," September 29, 2001–March 10, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22, 2003–September 21, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14, 2004–June 13, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: Two Decades of Collecting Japanese Art," 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Drama of Eyes and Hands: Sharaku's Portraits of Kabuki Actors," September 20, 2007–March 24, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

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