Iconographic Drawings of the Secrets of the Nine Luminaries

Sōkan Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 223

Many Esoteric Buddhists believed that celestial bodies held the secrets to their destiny, and that in certain configurations they could cause misfortune. To foretell and help overcome these influences, they adopted rituals from China, where understandings of the heavens were also intertwined with Daoist beliefs. This handscroll illustrates the Nine Luminaries: the sun and moon; the planets Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury; and two important points in the moon’s orbit.

On view for rotations 1 and 2

Iconographic Drawings of the Secrets of the Nine Luminaries, Sōkan (Japanese, active late 11th–early 12th century), Handscroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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