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Frontispiece to an illuminated manuscript of the Amitabha Sutra

  • Detail

    Detail

  • Detail

    Detail

 

Height: 220.000 mm
Width: 170.000 mm

Asia OA 1983.10-8.01

Asia

    Frontispiece to an illuminated manuscript of the Amitabha Sutra

    From Korea
    Koryo dynasty, AD 1341

    Sermons of the Buddha

    Buddhism was the official royal religion of the Koryo dynasty, and the aristocracy subsequently promoted the copying of Buddhist sutras. It was considered a deed that would have great spiritual benefit, and copies were commissioned with the aim of earning merit and thus being reborn in a better state or in paradise, released from all wordly suffering. The handwritten copies (sagyong) were made with great skill and care in calligraphy, ususally by monk-scribes.

    This sutra was written, in silver lettering, by a monk called Ch'onggo for the spiritual benfit of his mother. The manuscript has one illustration, spread over two leaves, and painted in gold. It shows the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, flanked by bodhisattvas and monks preaching to deities and other Buddhas, while two bodhisattvas welcome souls to paradise as they emerge from a lotus pond.

    Korean sutra writers were in great demand in contemporary China. The sutras were also highly sought after in Japan.

    This is the only example of a Koryo-period sutra in a European museum, and one of the few outside Korea and Japan.

    J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

    W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

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    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99

    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99