“Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” Chapter 5 of the Lotus Sutra

Unidentified artist

Not on view

This sutra once formed part of a much larger set of handscrolls depicting all twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures. Each handscroll consists of a pictorial frontispiece followed by a section of text, all of which are brushed in gold paint on indigo-dyed paper. The present scroll represents a portion of the Lotus Sutra’s fifth chapter, “Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” (Japanese: Yakusōyu). This chapter describes three kinds of grasses and two kinds of trees that all receive the same amount of rainfall from the clouds, a metaphor for five different beings to whom the Buddha gives identical teachings.

“Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” Chapter 5 of the Lotus Sutra, Unidentified artist, Handscroll; gold and silver ink on indigo-dyed paper, Japan

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