Important Cultural PropertyThe Pure Land of Amida (Skt. Amitābha)

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  • 絹本著色浄土曼荼羅図(伝清海曼荼羅)
  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Ink and colors on silk Gold leaf Cut gold leaf (kirikane) Hanging scroll
  • H 162.1, W 134.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 650(絵137)

  Paintings of the Pure Land Paradise of Amida (Skt. Amitābha) started to be actively illustrated after a Chinese Tang priest Shandao (613–681) wrote Annotations on the Sutra of Infinite Life Commentary (Kanmuryōjubutsu Kyō Shō, known as Kangyō Shō). The early style of the Pure Land of Amida and Kangyō Mandala (Taima Mandala) appeared in the Nara period (710–794) in Japan. Chikō Mandala, in which two Buddhist priests Chikō (dates unknown) and Raikō (dates unknown) of Gangōji Temple were drawn in the simple Pure Land painting envisioned by Chikō, was established in the late Nara period. In addition, Seikai Mandala was established in the mid Heian period (794–1185).
  In general, the images taken from the story of King Ajase (Skt. Ajātaśatru) and scenes of nine levels of Amida’s birth (kubon raigō) were drawn around the painting of the Pure Land in Taima Mandala. A summary of the sixteen contemplations and a lotus pedestal are drawn in Seikai Mandala. However, they are not drawn in this article and only the Pure Land Paradise is drawn across the painting. Such features are like the Chikō Mandala said to have been established in the late Nara period and it seems to have developed based on the concept of the original Pure Land paintings from the Tang in China. Platforms including the void, the jeweled palaces, the lotus pedestal, the jeweled pond and the music stage are drawn from the top. Four nuns are added to the lotus pedestal section and two children are drawn on the music stage section. It seems that these more complex features are like Chikō Mandala Itae Panel held in Gangōji Temple in Nara. However, the Amida in this article forms the preach mudra (tenpōrin in). This is different from the Chikō Mandala forming the praying mudra (mikaifu renge gasshō in), but is the same as the old style hand gesture of the center statue in the Pure Land paintings from the Tang.
  The warm colors used in contrast with white and green create a unique warm style. The bodies are outlined in deep vermilion and each figure has sharp expressions. The clothing is clearly colored, and the clothing accessories are beautifully decorated with gold and silver leaves. Together with the Pure Land painting of Saizen-in Temple in Mount Kōya, this is an extremely precious Pure Land painting as a style of hanging scroll in the late Heian period. This article was handed down to Gokurakuji Temple in Nara as a Seikai Mandala.

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