Portrait of Jion Daishi (Guiji)


Not on view

Guiji (632–682), a Chinese Buddhist monk of the Tang dynasty, transmitted the Hossō sect teachings to Japan (where he is known as Jion Daishi) and translated Buddhist scripture. He was the most accomplished of the disciples of Xuanzang (602–664), whose portrait is displayed in this exhibition. Portraits of venerated monks were hung in temples and connected followers to a heritage of rigorous thought and exemplary deeds. Religious genealogy reinforced the legitimacy of the institutions. The same ideology informed the arts in Japan. This scroll is an adaptation of a seated portrait used in the Jion-e memorial rites at Yakushiji temple in Nara. The archaic line style, derived from Tang dynasty conventions, enhances the intensity of the figure. The combination of monumentality and humanity is a classic expression of religious portraiture, in which conveying character is more important than achieving a physical likeness.

Portrait of Jion Daishi (Guiji), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

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