Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper; 9 7/16 in. x 30 ft. 8 1/16 in. (23.9 x 934.9 cm)
Purchase, Louisa Eldridge McBurney Gift, 1953 (53.7.3)
This scroll illustrates episodes taken from chapter 25, the "Universal Gate" chapter, of the Lotus Sutra. This popular text describes the manifold mercies of the compassionate bodhisattva Kannon, the most beloved bodhisattva in East Asia.
According to the calligrapher Sugawara-no-Mitsushige's inscription, this scroll was made in the first year of the Shoka era (1257) and was modeled after a Chinese Song-dynasty printed book dated 1208. Although the compositions and the figural and architectural motifs of this version reflect Chinese pictorial traditions, it is clear that the anonymous artist inventively incorporated native Japanese (yamato-e) elements, especially in the manner of representing the landscapes and the fantastic beasts and demons.