“Universal Gateway,” Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra

Calligrapher: Sugawara Mitsushige Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 223

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.

#8802. "Universal Gate" Chapter 25 from the Lotus Sutra (Illustrated Sutra of The Miracles of Kannon)

“Universal Gateway,” Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, Calligrapher: Sugawara Mitsushige (Japanese, active mid- 13th century), Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper, Japan

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