Height: 1954.000 mm
Width: 1458.000 mm
William Anderson Collection
Asia JA JP 17 (1881.12-10.07)
The Death of the Buddha, a hanging scroll painting
Kamakura period, early 14th century AD
The commemoration of the death of the Buddha
and his entry into
During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), increasingly large numbers were produced. Some, like this example, give evidence of renewed stylistic influence from Song dynasty China.
Despite significant areas of loss from the original silk support, many of the assembled figures and animals are still clearly visible, their expressions of grief movingly rendered. Harder to make out is the group of deities descending from the top right corner, led by Anritsu Sonja (Sanskrit: Aniruddha), one of the Buddha's sixteen disciples, and with the Buddha's mother Queen Maya in the centre, wearing a jewelled crown.
In the centre of the sky a full moon shines down through pairs of sal trees (which joined together and turned white at the moment of the Buddha's nirvana). Behind these flows the Badaiga River (Sanskrit: Ajiravati), the place in central India where the Buddha is said to have died.
The painting relates technically to works by the celebrated Buddhist painter Ryōzen.
From 1998 to 2000 this painting was extensively repaired and restored to its original format as a hanging scroll in the Usami Studio at the Kyoto National Museum, with assistance from agencies of the Japanese Government.
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)
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)