Art

Section of the Story of the Bodhisattva Medicine King Bhaishajyarâja (Yakuô Bosatsu), from Chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-pundarika sutra; Myôhô-renge-kyô or Hokke-kyô)

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Section of the Story of the Bodhisattva Medicine King Bhaishajyarâja (Yakuô Bosatsu), from Chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-pundarika sutra; Myôhô-renge-kyô or Hokke-kyô), Late Heian period, circa 1150
Transliterated Title: Myôhô-renge-kyô, Hokke-kyô (Saddharma-pundarika sutra): Yakuô Bosatsu (Bhaishajyarâja)
Calligraphy
, Handscroll
Japanese
,
12th century
Heian period, Late, 898-1185
Creation Place: Japan
Handscroll fragment mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on dyed paper decorated with ink, color, silver pigment, scattered gold- and silver-leaf, and cut-gold ruled lines
handscroll fragment only: H. 25 x W. 44 cm (9 13/16 x 17 5/16 in.)
mounting, including cord and roller ends: 109.2 x 63.5 cm (43 x 25 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Donald F. Hyde
, 1977.202
This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. Please contact the curatorial department listed above for more information.
Description
Of the numerous sutras (Buddhist texts) brought to Japan, the Lotus Sutra (Japanese: Myôhô-renge-kyô; Sanskrit: Saddharma-pundarika sutra) became the most popular and influential. Revered above all others for the salvation it promised to all who recited, recopied, or even ruminated upon it, the Lotus Sutra became a focus of worship for generations of pious Japanese Buddhists. Reading from top to bottom and right to left, this hanging scroll displays a section of the twenty-third chapter of the sutra, which was originally mounted in the horizontal handscroll format. The extant text lists the disease-curing blessings promised to all who worship the Lotus Sutra and ends with the title. The sumptuous paper on which it is written exemplifies a Japanese fascination with sprinkled gold and silver decoration that found its ultimate expression in maki-e (sprinkled design) lacquer. Delicately painted lotus plants line the upper and lower edges of the composition. The lotus is the international symbol of the Buddhist faith, signifying the beauty and purity of the Buddha's teachings despite their origins in this impure world of illusions.
Provenance
Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, New York (by 1977), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1977.
Bibliography
John M. Rosenfield and Fumiko Cranston, The Courtly Tradition in Japanese Art and Literature: Selections from the Hofer and Hyde Collections, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1973), Cat. No. 10 / pp. 52-53 (and color plate II & back cover photo)

Yoshiaki Shimizu and John M. Rosenfield, Masters of Japanese Calligraphy, 8th-19th Century, exh. cat., Asia Society Galleries (New York, NY, 1984), Cat. No. 006 / p. 45 and color photo on p. 18

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), Cat. #51 / p. 50, illustrated

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 74-75, illustrated

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 42

Exhibition History
Masterworks of East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/03/1995 - 06/09/1996
Japanese Art of the Heian Period (794-1185), Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 06/06/2002 - 07/05/2002
A Compelling Legacy: Masterworks of East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/24/2004 - 03/20/2005