Exhibitions/ Art Object

Illustrated Legends of the Origins of the Kumano Shrines (Kumano engi emaki)

Momoyama period (1573–1615)
late 16th–early 17th century
Set of three handscrolls; ink and color on paper
Image (a): 9 1/2 in. × 33 ft. 5 5/8 in. (24.1 × 1020.2 cm)
Image (b): 9 1/2 in. × 20 ft. 2 5/16 in. (24.1 × 615.5 cm)
Image (c): 9 1/2 in. × 13 ft. 9 3/4 in. (24.1 × 421 cm)
Credit Line:
Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
Accession Number:
Not on view
This is a set of three handscrolls narrating the miraculous origins of the shrines at Kumano, one of Japan’s most sacred locales. A fantastical account of the Indian origins and ultimate enshrinement of Kumano’s three deities, the story is told through a mix of text and image presented in a linear format, conveying progression through time and space.

The first two scrolls depict the story of an unnamed consort—one among a thousand—of an Indian maharaja. She gives birth to the ruler’s only son but is immediately beheaded at the hands of the other 999 consorts, who are bitterly jealous. The maharaja, his consort, and the prince are eventually enshrined as the deities of Kumano, whose sacred sites are introduced in the final scroll.
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," February 1, 2014–September 7, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–January 22, 2017.

Ruch, Barbara, ed. Kaigai shozō Nara ehon (Nara Ehon from outstanding foreign collections). Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1979, nos. 6–8.

Miya Tsugio, Shinbo Tōru, and Yoshida Yūji [Miya Tsugio et al.], eds. Kadokawa emakimono sōran (Kadokawa comprehensive survey of illustrated handscrolls). Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1995, pp. 111–13.

Proser, Adriana G., ed. Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art. Exh. cat. New York: Asia Society; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010, cat. no. 68.
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