Hanging canopy (tengai)

From Japan
Probably Kamakura period, 14th century AD

A canopy or tengai, hangs from the ceiling of Japanese Buddhist temples above the images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. It originated in India as a sunshade used by the nobility and appears as such in early Indian Buddhist images, although it also suggests the folaige of a tree, beneath which persons in authority sat to speak in public. Fragments of textile from a parasol have been found at Dunhuang in China. In Japan, the tengai are usually made of painted wood on a metal frame and are often elaborately carved.

This example has a lotus flower at the centre surrounded by rings of floral and scroll designs. It has gilt, copper and glass fittings.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

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


Diameter: 61.000 cm

Museum number

Asia JA 1967.2-20.1


Brooke Sewell Bequest


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