National TreasureLotus Sutra, Chapter on "Expedient Means" (Chikubushima Sutra)

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  • 法華経方便品
  • 1 scroll
  • Ink on paper
  • 29.6x528.5
  • Heian period/11th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • B-2401

This copy of the Lotus Sutra (J. Hokekyô) is commonly called the Chikubushima Sutra because it was originally in the collection of Hôgon-ji Temple on the island of Chikubushima in Lake Biwa. It is thought that the temple originally possessed a full copy of Kumarajiva's translation of the Lotus Sutra, but today Hôgon-ji's collection retains only this handscroll of the "Expedient Means" chapter (J. Jôben bon) and the "Introduction" (J. Johon) in a folded-book format.

The high quality paper upon which this sutra was copied has been ruled with gold ink and decorated with gold and silver underdrawings of butterflies, birds, flowering plants, imaginary Buddhist flowers (J. hôsôge), and clouds. The calligrapher of this gracefully decorated sutra has written twenty-eight lines per page in a regular and tranquil hand. In 1625 the noted calligrapher Shôkadô Shôjô (1584-1639) wrote a postscript that accompanies these texts in which he identifies the calligrapher as Minamoto Toshifusa (1035-1121), however, there is no proof to corroborate this.