Important Cultural PropertyFugen (Skt. Samantabhadra)

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  • 絹本著色普賢菩薩像
  • 1 hanging scroll
  • Ink and colors on silk Gold leaf (kinpaku)  Cut gold leaf (kirikane) Hanging scroll
  • H 62.0, W 30.7
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 1009(絵197)

  Fugen (Skt. Samantabhadra) is said to have gone everywhere to instruct sentient beings how to attain enlightenment while helping Buddha. In particular, the scene where Fugen shows up on a six-tusked white elephant and protects those with faith in the Lotus Sutra is included in the last chapter of the sutra, “The Encouragement of Fugen” and many works based on the scene have been painted. One of the earliest examples is seen in the murals of the Kondō Hall in Hōryūji Temple, many of which were painted in the period between the late Heian period (794–1185) and the Kamakura period (1185–1333) when the sutra was actively practiced. Among which, this painting features a strong appeal to people’s emotions, despite its small size.
  Applying pale vermillion color to the pale body of the bodhisattva creates a soft and warm texture. The outlines are drawn with smooth curves in pale ink to represent the ample figure. Each part of the clothes is painted in various mild colors and the folds of the robe are decorated with thinly cut gold leaf as if drawing a curve. In addition, the bodhisattva wears a breast ornament (yōraku) covered by gold and silver leaves over the whole body to add a shine, as well as make the outlines gentle. Fugen is surrounded by a calm atmosphere created by a halo with patterns formed by a combination of silver and gold leaves and cut gold leaves and the yoraku with silver leaves hanging from colorfully painted flower shaped Buddha canopy.