A Nenbutsu Gathering at Ichiya, Kyoto, from the Illustrated Biography of the Monk Ippen and His Disciple Ta'a (Yugyō Shōnin engi-e)
late 14th century
Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Image: 13 3/4 × 21 1/8 in. (34.9 × 53.7 cm)
Overall with mounting: 48 5/8 × 26 1/4 in. (123.5 × 66.7 cm)
Overall with knobs: 48 5/8 × 28 1/8 in. (123.5 × 71.4 cm)
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
Not on view
In this scene, people from all walks of life have gathered to hear the charismatic monk Ippen (1239-1289) perform a recitation of the Nenbutsu prayer invoking Amitabha. The crowd's anticipation nearly bursts from the page as they wait for his incantatory dance to begin on the stage that Ippen had constructed for preaching in Ichiya. The animation and sharp observation evident in the handscroll are characteristic of the best Kamakura painting. The illustrated lives of priests and patriarchs, which were repeatedly copied and displayed in temples throughout the country, not only served to chronicle the lives of exemplary teachers, but they also documented a sect's claim to the correct interpretation of Buddhism.
The buoyancy of Ippen's revelation is apparent in this version of the Illustrated Biography, which was partially,damaged by fire. The remainder is kept in the Konko-ji temple in Kyoto.