Gift from the Sumitomo Foundation

May 16, 2013
Monk Musashi Hōgen, Pair of Narrative Handscrolls: Illustrated History of the Yūzū-nembutsu Sect (detail from first scroll), Japanese, Muromachi period, dated 1471, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo recently gave us a generous grant toward the restoration of two 15th-century Japanese handscrolls in our collection.  The scrolls tell the history of the Yūzū-nembutsu Sect, a school of Pure Land Buddhism founded in the 12th century, which still exists today. Sect members believe that chanting the name Buddha Amida has a positive effect on all of humanity. (In the scene below, members seem to be chanting.) Both scrolls, in distinctively brilliant colors and with caricature-like figures, are attributed to Monk Musashi Hōgen. Handa Kyuseido, a restoration studio in Tokyo, is working in consultation with our Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies to clean the surface and fill in areas where paint has been lost; replace the knobs, mounting silks, and linings; and construct a traditional storage box of paulownia wood. The project is estimated to take 14 months. We are grateful to the Sumitomo Foundation for helping us preserve these invaluable pieces of Japanese visual history.