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“Universal Gateway,” Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra

Text inscribed by Sugawara Mitsushige

Period:
Kamakura period (1185–1333)
Date:
dated 1257
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Overall with mounting: 9 11/16 in. × 30 ft. 8 1/16 in. (24.6 × 934.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Louisa Eldridge McBurney Gift, 1953
Accession Number:
53.7.3
  • Description

    This scroll, with thirty-four images from the Lotus Sutra’s “Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds,” is the earliest known painted version, in one handscroll, of this litany praising the manifold mercies of the bodhisattva Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara). This chapter with illustrations, singled out for special worship, was popular in China as early as the Tang dynasty. A Song-dynasty printed version reached Japan by the thirteenth century.

    According to the calligrapher’s inscription, this scroll, made in 1257, was modeled after a Song printed book of 1208, which in turn was based on a painted scroll. No Chinese model for this scroll has been discovered, but many similar printed versions from later periods are preserved in China and Japan. The anonymous artist who transformed the Chinese original into a painted handscroll inventively incorporated indigenous yamato-e elements, especially in the landscapes.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
44849:7

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