Important Cultural PropertyMandala of the One-Syllable Golden Wheel (Skt. Ekākṣara-uṣṇīṣacakra)

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  • 絹本著色一字金輪曼荼羅図
  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Ink and colors on silk Gold leaf (kinpaku) Cut gold leaf (kirikane) Hanging scroll
  • H 79.0, W 49.5
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 947(絵186)

  This Mandala of the One-syllable Golden Wheel is used as a principal icon of the esoteric Buddhist practice the One-Syllable Golden Wheel for good health and respect. It was initially allowed only for the chief priest of Tōji Temple, however, it became a tradition of Ninnaji Temple and Enshūji Temple after the late eleventh century, the mid Heian period (794–1185). In addition, it was used for the esoteric Buddhism of Tendai sect.
  This painting is based on the following esoteric ritual manual about the Golden Wheel of Dainichi translated by Fukū (Skt. Amoghavajra; 705–774): Kongōchōkyō ichijichōrinnō yugaissaijishonenjujōbutsugiki (Jishoki). In short, the Golden Wheel of Dainichi having a halo designed flame sits in the center on the lion pedestal while forming a Dainichi mudra and a dharma wheel is placed at the lower front and then the potent auspicious seven treasures including the sacred jewel, the sacred woman, the sacred horse, the sacred elephant, the sacred riches, the sacred soldier and the Goddess of the Buddha’s Eye (Skt. Buddhalocanā) are placed in a clockwise direction.
  The image of the Golden Wheel of Dainichi is drawn in deep vermillion lines and painted in pale white and the shading technique is applied in vermillion. These features create the sharp looking appearance. The clothes are painted pale whitish brown and decorated with patterns created by cut gold leaves and colors. The clothing accessories are rich in decorative nature as gold and silver leaves etc., are used. The use of deep, mainly warm colors creates a sense of elegance as well as some kind of power, which has become one of the allures of this painting. In the background, the upper area is painted in blue to express a void and the lower area is painted in blue with checkered patterns (ishidatami) created with cut gold leaves.