Exhibitions/ Art Object

Eleven-Headed Kannon on Mount Fudaraka

Kamakura period (1185–1333)
13th century
Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
Image: 42 1/2 × 16 1/8 in. (108 × 41 cm) Overall with mounting: 71 3/4 × 22 3/4 in. (182.2 × 57.8 cm) Overall with knobs: 71 3/4 × 24 3/8 in. (182.2 × 61.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
Described in the sutras as a mountainous island in the southern sea, Mount Fudaraka (Sanskrit: Potalaka) is said to be the residence of the bodhisattva Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara). In China, this island was popularly believed to be off the coast of Ningbo in Zhejiang province. Because Ningbo was the main port for ships from Japan during the medieval period, the cult of Fudaraka Kannon became known in Japan and was eventually assimilated into syncretic mountain worship (shugendō). Certain sacred Japanese mountains, such as Kumano and Kasuga, came to be revered as Pure Land abodes of Kannon, who is viewed as an emanation of the Amida Buddha (Sanskrit: Amitābha). Here, Kannon is shown with eleven heads (jūichimen), one of the most commonly depicted of the deity's thirty-three forms.

Details in the landscape, such as the spring blossoms and autumn leaves, reflect the painting's role as a virtual pilgrimage to the sacred mountainous sites.
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