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Illustrated Manuscript of the Lotus Sutra

Unidentified Artist

Period:
Goryeo dynasty (918–1392)
Date:
ca. 1340
Culture:
Korea
Medium:
Folding book; gold and silver on indigo-dyed mulberry paper
Dimensions:
Image: 9 x 4 1/2 in. (22.9 x 11.4 cm) Overall: 13 x 4 1/2 in. (33 x 11.4 cm) Overall (folding book): 13 x 4 1/2 x 7/8 in. (33 x 11.4 x 2.2 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994
Accession Number:
1994.207
  • Description

    The copying of Buddhist sutras—the written texts of the teachings of the Buddha—was regarded as one of the most meritorious acts a devotee could perform. The Lotus Sutra, a seminal text in Mahayana Buddhism, is one of the two most frequently copied sutras. Illustrated Buddhist scriptures of the Goryeo dynasty, produced at the Royal Scriptorium, were highly valued by monasteries and temples throughout northeast Asia. The volumes usually have a rectangular accordion format and are characterized by exquisite calligraphy written in gold or silver pigment on indigo-dyed paper, often preceded by elaborate frontispiece illustrations, as seen here. This fourteenth-century example demonstrates the standards of excellence for which Goryeo sutras are renowned. The lavish illustration, executed with dazzling technical virtuosity, depicts popular tales from the Lotus Sutra, which addresses the question of universal salvation and the means by which sentient beings can be led to enlightenment.

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
36451:10

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