Important Cultural PropertyMandala of the Pure Land of Amida (Amitabha), (J., Amida Jodo Mandara)

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  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Color on silk, gold-leaf, decorated with thin metal strips
  • H 162.1, W 134.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 650(絵137)

Paintings of Amida's Gokuraku-Jodo (Pure Land of Bliss) started to be actively drawn after a Chinese Tang Buddhist priest Zendo (613-681) pictorialized the contents of his writing called "Kanmuryo-Jyubutsu-Kyosho" ("Kan-Kyosho"). The early style of Amida Jodo zu and Kangyo Mandala (Taima Mandala) appeared in the Nara period in Japan and Chiko Mandala, in which two Buddhist priests Chiko and Yorimitsu were drawn in a simple Jodo-zu, was established by a priest of Genkoji, Chiko in the late Nara period. In addition, Seikai Mandala was established in the mid Heian period.

In general, the images taken from the story of Ajase-o (King Ajatashatru) and scenes of Kubon Raigo (nine grades of Amida's descent) were drawn around the Jodo-zu in Taima Mandala and 16 Juku and a lotus pedestal are drawn in Seikai Mandala. However, they are not drawn in this painting and only Gokuraku-Jodo is drawn across the painting. Such features are similar to the Chiko Mandala said to have been established in the late Nara period and it seems to have developed based on the concept of an original Jodo-zu from the Tang period. Platforms including Koku, Houro, Geza (lotus pedestal), Hochi and Bugaku are drawn from the top and Shihioka is added to the Geza platform and two Doji are drawn on the Bugaku platform. It seems that these more complex features are similar to the Itae Chiko Mandala held in Gango-ji Temple in Nara. However, the Amida Nyorai in this painting forms the Tenpo Rini (hand position). This is different from the Chiko Mandala forming the Mikaifurenge Gasshoin (hand position), but is the same as the old style Inzo (hand position) of Chuson in Jodohenso-zu from the Tang period.

The warm colors used in contrast with white and green create a unique warm style. The bodies are outlined in deep vermillion and each figure has sharp expressions. The clothing is clearly colored and the clothing accessories are beautifully decorated with Kirihaku (gold or silver cut into long thin strips). Together with the Koyasan Saizenin Jodo-zu, this is an extremely precious painting as a Kakefuku-style (hanging scroll) Jodo-zu painting in the late Heian period. This painting was handed down to Gokuraku-ji Temple in Nara as a Seikai Mandala.