Mandala of the Kasuga Shrine Deity in the form of the bodhisattva Jizō, a hanging scroll painting

Japan
Kamakura period, early 14th century AD

The bodhisattva Jizō (Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha) was widely worshipped in Japan from the late Heian period (794-1185) as the deity who would save the faithful should they be reborn into one of the hells of the Six Realms. In the Kamakura period (1185-1333) he is generally portrayed as a compassionate young monk dressed in monastic robes and stole (kesa) and carrying a ringed travelling staff and a sacred jewel. He is most often shown, as here, floating down to greet the believer on a cloud (raigō-zu). The delicate sensitivity of the facial features and detailed and elaborate lotus and hemp leaf patterning on gold that covers the robes indicate a date in the late Kamakura period (early fourteenth century).

At the top of the hanging scroll are the outlines of Mt. Kasuga and Mt. Mikasa, under which hover five seated Buddhist deities regarded as the 'original state' (honji) of the native Shintō deities of the Kasuga Shrine, Nara. Jizō was regarded specifically as the Buddhist counterpart of the Shintō deity Ame-no-koyane-no-mikoto, enshrined in the Third Hall of the Kasuga Shrine. The painting therefore reflects the honji suijaku ('manifestation from the original state') doctrines of the medieval period (twelfth to sixteenth centuries), which sought to unify the two religions of Buddhism and Shintō, and is a regarded as a kind of mandala of the Kasuga Shrine.

The painting is said to derive from the Jizō-in Temple in Itano District, Tokushima Prefecture.

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More information

Bibliography

I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)

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

Dimensions

Height: 1349.000 mm
Width: 404.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD390 (1967.6-19.05)

JCF7442

Brooke Sewell Fund

Location

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