Important Cultural PropertyDaihannya sutras

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  • Ink on paper
  • H 165.0, D 62.5
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum

These are two cylindrical Zushi painted with black lacquer that altogether held 600 volumes of Dai-Hannya-Kyo (sutra). They were originally handed down to the Jinkoin in Kyoto and are currently held separately by this museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art. They are in the same style of a round sixteen-petal-lotus flower base on double octagonal lotus flower bases and the cylindrical body is placed on them. The body has double doors on the front part and another sixteen-petal-lotus flower shaped pedestal is placed inside. The roof is octagonal and the Hachiyorenge where the Sankosyo (Buddhism article) is placed between the leaves (which is similar to Chudai Hachiyoin) is engraved on the space under the eaves and a Giboshi (imitation sacred gem) is placed on the top. Four Zenshins are drawn on the doors and sixteen Zenshins of the guardian gods for the Great prajna sutra are presented altogether on the two Zushi. They are drawn in bright colors and decorated with plenty of Kirikane (cut pieces of a combination of silver, gold and platinum). Although it has some common features with those from the Heian period, the style of the image is different from the iconography of sixteen Zenshins of the same period. As it also has exotic features, there is a possibility that it is based on Tohon. A Syuji of Amida and Shaka is presented on the back wall of the body and the ceiling is decorated with a Tengai (canopy). According to the evidence remaining on the back wall, it is estimated that each Zushi has 300 volumes of Kyokan (sutra) placed in three tiers (100 volumes per tier). It is interesting that the features represented by the cylindrical body and roof with a Giboshi on the top are very similar to Kyozutsu in the Heian period and show the decorative method for the sutra of the Heian period. The Zushi held by this museum comes with 166 volumes of Dai-Hannya-Kyo (sutra).