Image: 42 1/4 x 22 3/4 in. (107.3 x 57.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 86 x 31 1/2 in. (218.4 x 80 cm)
Overall with knobs: 86 x 33 3/4 in. (218.4 x 85.7 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Not on view
This painting shows Shaka in his fully enlightened state, enthroned and flanked by his bodhisattva attendants: Monju (Manjushri), riding a golden lion, and Fugen (Samantabhadra), riding a white elephant. Serving as the Buddha's active agents in this world, Monju stands for the wisdom of Buddhism and Fugen for its practice, particularly meditation and teaching. The pyramidal arrangement of the figures, with the transcendent Shaka at its apex and axis, projects the enduring nature of the faith. The subtle contrast between the broad-shouldered stasis of the Buddha and the animation of the bodhisattvas and their mounts is a pleasing visual interpretation of the theological meaning of the iconography. This straightforward yet richly painted icon reflects the revival of older Buddhist sects that accompanied the reform of mainstream Buddhism during the Kamakura period.