Important Cultural PropertyIconographic Drawings from the Kaidan’in Doors at Todaiji Temple

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  • 紙本白描東大寺戒壇院扉絵図
  • 1 scroll
  • Ink on paper Handscroll
  • H 28.9, L 1114.0 (Total L 11136.5)
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 1423(絵270)

  This is a scroll of ink line painting depicting eight worshipping bodhisattvas (kuyo bosatsu) playing a musical instrument or holding a flower basket (keko), Bonten (Skt. Brahmā), Taishakuten (Skt. Śakra), the Four Guardian Kings (Shitenno) and the Intimidating Duo (Nio). Based on the title and the endorsement, it is estimated that this is a copy of the painting on the door of a small shrine (zushi) enshrined in the Kaidan’in of Todaiji Temple. The zushi was enshrined in the Kaidan’in of Todaiji Temple in Tempyo Shoho 7 (755) but was burnt down due to a war in Jisho 4 (1180). This scroll of drawings is an extremely valuable drawing material as it was copied before the fire and passes on the characteristics of a door drawing of the Nara period (710–794) which had been lost. It was once possessed by Kosanji Temple in Kyoto Prefecture and listed in the Indexes of Shingon Sutras of Kosanji Temple compiled in Kencho 3 (1251). The iconography of the six deities of Bonten, Taishakuten and the Four Guardian Kings drawn in this scroll almost completely correspond to the six deities depicted in the Kusha Mandala, which thought to be completed in the late Heian period (794–1185) and now possessed by Todaiji Temple, in appearance and size. Moreover, the color annotation made only for these six deity figures almost matches the coloring of the six deities in the Kusha Mandala, which suggests that they are closely related, and both faithfully pass down the original drawing that was lost.