White-Robed Kannon

Sakai Hōitsu Japanese

Not on view

The bodhisattva Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara) sits on a pedestal-like rock, his white-robed figure enveloped in a radiance shaped like the full moon. His skin, his jewelry, and the nearby foliage bear touches of color, but the landscape surrounding him is rendered in monochrome brushwork and ink wash. The iconography and composition follow a model imported from China centuries earlier, established in Japan by Zen monk-painters of the Muromachi period (1392–1573). Above the figure, the words of the “Kannon-gyō”—a section of the twenty-fifth chapter of the sacred text Lotus Sutra—are inscribed in gold pigment by the artist.

Sakai Hōitsu studied the artistic vocabulary of various schools but is best known for his Rinpa compositions, based on literary and seasonal themes and inspired by the work of Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716). Having become a Buddhist monk at age thirty-seven he also produced Buddhist images, of which this is an example.

White-Robed Kannon, Sakai Hōitsu (Japanese, 1761–1828), Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, Japan

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