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Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts

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Buddha Amitabha Descending from His Pure Land

Unidentified Artist

Period:
Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)
Date:
13th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 53 1/2 in. × 23 in. (135.9 × 58.4 cm) Overall with mounting: 95 3/4 × 31 3/4 in. (243.2 × 80.6 cm) Overall with knobs: 95 3/4 × 33 1/2 in. (243.2 × 85.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1980
Accession Number:
1980.275
  • Description

    A barely legible inscription at the lower left of this painting indicates that it was produced in the Ningbo area, near Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song dynasty and a major center of Buddhist painting. The Buddha can be identified as the celestial (as opposed to historical) Amitabha by his standing diagonal position and lowered right hand. In East Asia by the sixth century, Amitabha had become the focus of a practice based on a group of three related texts whose adherents sought to achieve rebirth in Amitabha's Pure Land, or personal paradise. This perfected world was believed to be an environment particularly conducive to attaining enlightenment. Paintings and sculptures of Amitabha escorting the souls of the recently deceased to his private realm were among the most widely produced images in China from the twelfth to the fourteenth century.

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