Important Cultural PropertyKôfuku-ji Mandala

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  • Hanging scroll
  • Height 96.8cm Width 38.8cm
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • A甲129

This mandala of the Nara temple Kofuku-ji depicts the temple’s precincts together with those of Kasuga Shrine. Among paintings on the same theme, this example is unusual for its relatively enlarged representation of Kofuku-ji. The Buddhist deities are delineated in black ink over gold leaf, a technique called kaikonjiki in Japanese, with brilliant colors added for accent. Despite the delicacy of its representations, the work as a whole exudes an imposing sense of opulence. The Buddhist images shown within the mandala are of sculptures that burned in the fire of 1180 (Chisho 4); however, the painting itself has an early Kamakura feel, indicating that it may have been produced as a record of the temple’s former compound. This painting is prized as the oldest extant pictorial example of suijaku, the syncretism of Buddhism and Shinto.