The Lotus Sutra (Miaofa Lianhua Jing) with Illustrated Frontispiece
Printed during the twelfth century, this scroll, together with the seven others from the set, contain the text of the Lotus Sutra (Chinese, Miaofa Lianhua Jing; Sanskrit, Saddharma-pundarika Sutra), the most popular and important of all Buddhist sutras in East Asia. The frontispiece depicts thirty episodes from the text that would have been well known to all worshippers; the stories have been arranged into a single, unified composition. A closely related sutra, perhaps printed from the same woodblocks and now preserved in the temple Denkõ-ji, Nara, has been designated a Japanese National Treasure. Another closely related sutra, perhaps also printed from the same woodblocks and now preserved in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., was long housed within the wooden sculpture known as Prince Shôtoku at Age Two (99.1979.1).