This ink drawing from the early twelfth century appears to have been made as a guide for creating a painted mandala—a schematic diagram of an array of Buddhist deities used for rituals. The central figure is Aizen Myōō, who represents the sublimation of carnal desire into spiritual energy and is always depicted in a fierce aspect. In this drawing, a supervisor of the mandala painting project indicated next to the central figure that it should be red; the image of the bodhisattva Kannon beneath it was to be white.
A dated inscription on the reverse tells us the drawing was copied by a monk at Shōren’in Temple in Kyoto from a model passed down from Chōen (1016–1081), a monk-scholar of the Tendai sect who specialized in Esoteric Buddhist rituals.
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愛染曼荼羅図像 (Aizen mandara zuzō)
Title:Iconographical Drawing of the Mandala of the Wisdom King Aizen
Period:Heian period (794–1185)
Date:Kashō 2 (1107)
Medium:Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:Image: 23 × 21 in. (58.4 × 53.3 cm) Overall with mounting: 55 13/16 × 24 7/16 in. (141.7 × 62 cm) Overall with knobs: 55 13/16 × 26 9/16 in. (141.7 × 67.4 cm)
Credit Line:Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
The Chūyūki, a record of court activities kept by the courtier Fujiwara Munetada between 1087 and 1138, refers to rituals dedicated to Aizen that involved more than one hundred larger-than-life statues of the deity. None of these are extant. The drawing in the Burke Collection is one of the few images of Aizen from this period to have survived.
The drawing was at one time folded lengthwise in the center. Brief notations on the reverse (page 36) identify some of the deities depicted, while the inscription, dated the fifth day of the third month, the second year of the Kashō era (1107), states that it was copied from a model inherited by a certain Sanmai Ajari Ryōyu from his teacher Chōen (1016–1081), a noted Mikkyō scholar of the Tendai school and a renowned prelate at Ōhara.
Because representations of Aizen generally follow iconographic details prescribed in the Yugikyō, the original model for the work owned by Chōen may have been a copy of a Chinese drawing. Most likely it resembled drawings from the Diamond World mandala scroll, formerly in Shōren'in, Kyoto, and now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is elated 1083 and identified as a copy of a Chinese work brought to Japan by Saichō. It is notable that the Burke mandala was in the Shōren'in collection when the temple was situated on Mount Hiei and served as the headquarters of the Tendai sect.
Although no finished painting resembling the Burke mandala is known, it is nearly identical to an Edo-period ink drawing of 1706 in the MOA Museum of Art, Atami. The few differences between them, however, are significant and suggest that they were based on different models. [Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]
 Hameda Takashi 1980, pp. 85-87; and Shinbo Tōru 1985.  On this deity, see Goepper 1993, on which the present discussion is based.  Kongōbu rōkaku issai yuka yugikyō, in Daizōkyō 1914–32, vol. 18, no. 867  Goepper 1993, p. 74.  Fujiwara Munetada 1965.  These notations are written in a calligraphic style which differs from that in the drawing itself.  Yanagisawa Taka 1965, pts. 1, 2.  Shōren'in was founded by Gyōgen (1097–1155), a pupil of the monk Ryōkyu; see Rosenfield and Grotenhuis 1979, p. 90.  Kyoto National Museum 1981, p. 226.
Inscription: Inscription is dated to the third month of the year Kasho 2 (1107). According to this inscription the mandala was copied in 1107 from a model which Ajari Ryoyu had inherited from his teacher Choen (1016-81) a high ranking prelate at Ohara and a noted scholar of the Tendai sect of Esoteric Buddhism.
Shōren’in 青蓮院 , Kyoto; [ S. Yabumoto Co., Ltd. 藪本宗四郎 Japanese, Tokyo, 1968; sold to Burke]; Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (1968–2015; donated to MMA)
New York. Asia Society. "Journey of the Three Jewels: Japanese Buddhist Paintings from Western Collections," October 11, 1979–December 9, 1979.
Tokyo National Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," May 21, 1985–June 30, 1985.
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," August 17, 1985–September 23, 1985.
Atami. MOA Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," September 29, 1985–October 27, 1985.
Hamamatsu City Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," November 12, 1985–December 1, 1985.
New York. Asia Society. "Art of Japan: Selections from the Burke Collection, pts. I and II," October 2, 1986–February 22, 1987.
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. "Die Kunst des Alten Japan: Meisterwerke aus der Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," September 16, 1990–November 18, 1990.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Japanese Art from The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 30–June 25, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–May 14, 2017.
Goepper, Roger. Aizen-myōō: The Esoteric King of Lust : An Iconological Study. Zurich: Artibus Asiae : Museum Rietberg, 1993, pp. 71–72.
Murase, Miyeko, Il Kim, Shi-yee Liu, Gratia Williams Nakahashi, Stephanie Wada, Soyoung Lee, and David Sensabaugh. Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Vol. 1, Japanese Paintings, Printed Works, Calligraphy. [New York]: Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, , p. 10, cat. no. 17.
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