Important Cultural PropertyMandala of the Great Cranial Protuberance (Skt., Mahosnisacakra), (J., Daibutcho・Mandara)

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  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk, gold-leaf, decorated with thin metal strips
  • H 125.5, W 88.5
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 946(絵185)

The Daibuccho Mandala is used to pray for love and respect, good health and increased benefit as a Honzon (main deity) in the Daibuccho sect. According to records, the Daibuccho Mandala started to be used in the late eleventh century (the mid Heian period).

This painting is a Tohon (a painting brought to Japan after being drawn in China) and it is not clear about the single Giki (the book of ritual practice in esoteric Buddhism) considered as the source. The same iconography as this painting is contained in the "Zuzoshou" and "Besson Zakki" collection of books on iconographies in the late Heian period and it was probably brought from China as a new iconography in the Sung period.

The painting represents Ichiji Kinrin (Dainichi Kinrin) sitting in Zazen posture with its back to a Nichirin (circular sun disk) in Shumisen (the central mountain in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha) and surrounded by Shippou (seven treasures). Apart from the fact that it does not contain a Shishiza (lion pedestal), it is very similar to the iconography of Ichiji Kinrin. Inside the Gachirin (circular moon disk) on the top of the painting, Shaka Kinrin is represented with a golden wheel placed on his lap while forming a jouin mudra. Karahana (flower patterns) including a bamboo grove and peony patterns are applied on both sides of where Shumisen Dainichi Norai sits and in the foreground, two major Ryuou (dragon king) and Ryujin (dragon god) are rising up out of sea. Scenes associated with natural scenery are incorporated into Mandala in esoteric Buddhism and apart from the image of Buddha in the Gachirin, the expressions and styles are innovative and unconventional.

The body of the main image is drawn in vermilion and colored in yellow. Fine Kirikane patterns such as Shippou Tsunagi, Tatewaku and Ishidatami are used for the clothes and the clasp is a foiled clasp and the coloring with Guiro (whitish pale colors) creates a sense of delicacy. In particular, the decorative features such as the gold Kirikane applied for Dainichi Kinrin and the silver Kirikane (which is a rare for Buddhist statues) applied for Syaka Kinrin are notable.