- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. The bodhisattva Jizo descending on lotus pedestals and trail of cloud, wearing white Buddhist monk's robes, gold brocade surplice and carrying attributes of ringed staff and 'treasure jewel'. Ink, colour and gold on paper. Inscribed, signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 178 centimetres (including the hanging cord)
Width: 53.40 centimetres (including the rollers)
Width: 49.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The compassionate bodhisattva Jizo (S: Ksitigarbha) appears in his customary guise as a monk, with attributes of a golden staff and wish-granting jewel. He is the saviour of women, children, warriors and travellers and rescues beings from hell. It is somewhat unusual for an Ukiyo-e artist to execute a Buddhist painting, and Jizo's introspective expression has none of the worldliness we associate with Moronobu's customary depictions of Yoshiwara courtesans. The inscription by Shorei Shamon Keitsu (probably a monk) reads: 'What we desire in this transient world /He fulfils all our needs. /After rebirth in the Pure Land, /We will receive beneficence without limit'. (Label copy, TTC, 1998)
The Bodhisattva Jizo (Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha) is an agent of Amida Buddha, a benevolent saviour who comes to greet the faithful at the time of their death and escort them to the Pure Land Paradise of Amida in the west. As the inscription above by Shorei Shamon Keitsu (probably a monk) says:
What we desire in this transient world -
He fulfils all our needs.
After rebirth in the Pure Land,
We will receive beneficence without limit.
Here Moronobu uses exactly the same sensitive, flowing line as in his paintings of beautiful women, to show the Bodhisattva descending on lotus pedestals and a trail of cloud, wearing white monk's robes, a gold brocade stole ('kesa') and carrying his attributes of a ringed staff ('shakujo') and 'treasure jewel' ('hoju'). The plump face has a compassionate, introspective expression, without a hint of the worldliness one might expect from an Ukiyo-e artist.
Indeed, it is very unusual for an Ukiyo-e painter to have executed a Buddhist work, and the fact that Moronobu has included the name of his native region 'Bokoku' (Awa Province) in his signature suggests that this might have been a special commission for some temple in Edo, or even perhaps in his home province.
Morrison, Arthur, 'The Painters of Japan'. Vol. 2, London, 1911, text p. 28.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 22.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2010 Oct 19- 2011 Feb 14, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
2014 Oct 7- 2015 Apr 28, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
2016 Jan- Feb, Chiba, Japan, Chiba City Museum, "Ukiyo-e"
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1371 (Japanese Painting Number)