- Museum number
- Object: Fugen enmei 普賢延命
Painting, hanging scroll. The bodhisattva Fugen in 'life-prologing' form, seated on a lotus pedestal with the four guardian kings at the corners, supported by a four-headed elephant standing on a wheel symbolising the Dharma (Law). Gold on paper (black). Border made of lotus fibres interwoven with narrow strips of paper.
- Production date
Height: 173 centimetres (mount)
Height: 107 centimetres
Width: 58 centimetres (mount)
Width: 42.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Fugen (S: Samantabhadra), the bodhisattva of 'universal virtue' appears here in an esoteric 'life-prolonging' (emmei) form. The deity wears a crown containing five Buddhas and has twenty arms each holding a different attribute or ritual implement to indicate his boundless ability to save. He is seated on a lotus pedestal supported by a four-headed elephant with multiple tusks. Beneath the elephant is the wheel which symbolises the Dharma, the law or truth of Buddhism. At the corners of the lotus pedestal are the four guardian kings (J: Shitenno). The gold paint on indigo-dyed paper recalls techniques used for painting sutras. (label copy, TTC, 1998)
'Nineteenth century.' (unattributed annotation in the specially interleaved Japanese Study Room copy of Anderson 1886)
Fugen Enmei is the presiding bodhisattva in the Fugen enmei ho 普賢延命法, a ritual used to petition for prolonging life, often in the context of state ritual, e.g. for Emperor Shirakawa in 1075. Typically he holds a double-headed vajra in his right hand and a bell (ghanta) in his left, though in this example, the bell is in one of the subordinate hands and the primary left hand is holding a lotus flower. His top left hand holds the sword of wisdom (prajna), a prominent feature of the non-esoteric Samantabhadra. (Dr Ian Astley, 12 Jan 2008)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Buddhist Arts of the Edo Period'
2009, 18 Feb-15 Jun, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to present'
2015 October-2016 April, London, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.3480 (Japanese Painting Number)