Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Bodhisattvas

Meiji period (1868–1912)
Silk embroidery
37 1/2 x 26 3/4 in. (95.3 x 67.9 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
Not on view
Embroidered Buddhist images were first made in India and then introduced through central Asia to China. They were of great importance during the Six Dynasties and the T'ang period, when Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Embroideries, often quite large, were prominent among the icons of the Asuka and Nara periods, from the sixth through the ninth centuries and were used mainly as wall hangings in temple lecture halls. Because of the popularization of belief in Amida's saving vows during the Kamakura period and into the fourteenth century, embroidered images many times copies of paintings in temple collections, were revived for use as devotional icons. They were often the product of pious groups seeking to perform meritorious works. Kamakura embroideries are distinguished by their rich variety of subject matter and colors, small size and intricate stitching technique. By the Muromachi period (1392–1568), these embroidered Buddhist images (shūbutsu) became more conventionalized and were almost exclusively Amida Raigō, though this piece is an exception.

This fragment of a banner depicting Manifestations of Kannon (Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit) is an unusual example of a temple hanging. Manifestations of Kannon were objects of worship at rites held by families to assist a deceased member, along the path to the other world. Each of the six manifestations of Kannon was associated with one of the Six Realms of Existence. According to the embroidered inscriptions, which indicate a liturgical use for this piece, the thousand-armed Senju Kannon, feted on the twelfth day [after death], is seated on the lotus throne to the left, and on the right is the six-armed Nyōirin Kannon bearing the nyōi-hōju jewel and the Wheel of the Law, feted on the twenty-second day [after death]. The sun and the moon, symbols of Kannon's eternal presence, float above each figure, backed by the mountains of paradise.
Signature: Inscriptions on right: Sen–ju Kanzeon go–en–nichi jushichi–nichi (The Thousand–armed Kannon [whose] fête–day [is] the twenty-second day)

Inscriptions on left: Nyo–i–rin Kanzeon go–en–nichi nijuni nichi (The as–you–like–it–wheel Kannon [whose] fête–day [is] the twenty-second day)
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).
Related Objects

Robe (Kosode) with Cherry Blossoms and Cypress Fence

Date: second half of the 17th century Medium: Silk and metallic thread embroidery with resist dyeing on satin damask Accession: 1980.222 On view in:Not on view

Kimono Rakuhoku

Artist: Moriguchi Kakō (Japanese, 1909–2007) Date: 1985 Medium: Paste-resist dyed (yūzen) silk with metallic-thread embroidery Accession: 2014.514 On view in:Gallery 227

Robe (Kosode) with Shells and Sea Grasses

Date: early 17th century Medium: Embroidery and gold leaf on plain-weave silk patterned with warp floats Accession: 1992.253 On view in:Not on view

Travels through Mountains and Fields

Artist: Yosa Buson (Japanese, 1716–1783) Date: ca. 1765 Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and color on silk Accession: 2015.300.157.1, .2 On view in:Not on view

Life's Symphony (Kyoku)

Artist: Maio Motoko (Japanese, born Tokyo 1948) Date: 2011 Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; crushed paper, ink, white pigment (gofun), gold leaf, and silk on paper Accession: 2013.461.1, .2 On view in:Gallery 230