Mandala of Han'nya Bosatsu
Nanbokuchō period (1336–92)
Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold, and gold foil on silk
Image: 64 1/2 x 48 5/8 in. (163.8 x 123.5 cm)
Overall with painted mounting: 83 1/4 x 57 3/4 in. (211.5 x 146.7 cm)
Overall with mounting: 126 x 65 1/16 in. (320 x 165.2 cm)
Overall with knobs: 126 x 69 11/16 in. (320 x 177 cm)
Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2000
Not on view
This large painting illustrates the hierarchical structure of the world of Han'nya Bosatsu (Sanskrit: Prajnaparamita bodhisattva), an emanation of the supreme Buddha Dainichi Nyorai (Sanskrit: Mahavairochana Buddha) who appears in the Womb World Mandala. This bodhisattva is the embodiment of transcendental knowledge and perfect wisdom. The painting is an example of a "single deity mandala" (besson mandara). Such mandalas focus on a particular aspect of Dainichi and are used for rituals invoking that aspect. Attended by Bonten (Sanskrit: Brahma) and Taishakuten (Sanskrit: Indra), Han'nya Bosatsu is enshrined in the central square as if on an altar. Surrounding him are various bodhisattvas, guardian deities, demons, heavenly music-making angels, and, finally, a monk. The mandala is also framed by painted images of auspicious dragons and a phoenix. The compositional structure of the mandala describes a gradual shift in the degree of iconic divinity from the center to the periphery. At the bottom center of the outermost register is the figure of the monk at worship who evokes the physical world of time and space. The painting is rendered in intense malachite green and azurite blue, to which patterns in cut-gold foil (kirikane) were applied. The surface of the Buddhist implements, gates, and robes was raised by a buildup of shell powder to enrich the majestic presentation. These technical features are characteristic of Buddhist painting of the Nanbokuchō and early Muromachi periods.
Based on original work by Masako Watanabe (Bridge of Dreams: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection of Japanese Art [New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000], cat. no. 48).
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