Taima Mandala


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 224

This mandala offers a resplendent vision of the Western Pure Land, a paradise over which Amida presides and to which he welcomes all beings who call upon his name. Enthroned at center, Amida is flanked by the bodhisattvas Seishi and Kannon, and is surrounded by throngs of musicians, dancers, celestial beings, and pavilions adorned with jewels. In the lower foreground is a lotus pond in which the faithful—any beings who called upon Amida’s name—are reborn. Bordering this scene are vignettes from the Contemplation Sutra, a text that teaches the living how to attain rebirth in this holy place.

Mandalas of this type are based on Chinese images brought to Japan in the 700s. The earliest Japanese mandala is an embroidery approximately four times larger than the present work, believed to have been created by a manifestation of the bodhisattva Kannon at the Taimadera temple in Nara in 763. The mandala here was once worshipped at Shinzenkōji, a temple in western Kyoto.

On view for rotations 1 and 2

Taima Mandala, Hanging scroll; color and gold on silk, Japan

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