Important Cultural PropertyBuddha's Nirvana

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  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Color on silk
  • 155.1x202.8
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • A-10599

Nehan-zu is a nirvana painting depicting the scene of Shakyamuni's physical death in a sal tree grove. Since a nehan-zu was used as a principal deity at the nehan-e (nirvana ceremony) that was held to respect and thank Shakyamuni on February 15, the anniversary of his death, nirvana paintings were created in large quantity. This painting is one of the best nirvana paintings created in the Heian period and well known for its dignified description of Shakyamuni and graceful coloring. It has a viewpoint on a slightly upper part of Shakyamuni's legs and features a screen structure that zooms in on the nirvana scene by depicting large Shakyamuni in the center of the landscape-oriented screen and drawing surrounding disciples, bodhisattvas, deities, birds and animals that are relatively large. This type of screen structure is characteristic of the nirvana paintings of the Heian period.