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PICRYL

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72 media by topicpage 1 of 1

Four-Legged jar

Heian period (794–1185)

Jar

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Seated Buddha

This small image probably represents Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, in his enlightened state, seated in the posture of meditation. Short whorls of hair (rahotsu) cover the head, and a cranial protuberance s... more

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Male and Female Shinto Deities

This pair of Shinto deities is represented in human form, wearing Heian court dress to suggest sacred and secular authority. These figures were likely produced in connection with the ancient court practice of h... more

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Hiten

Hiten (Sanskrit, apsaras), bodhisattvas who fly on clouds around the Buddha, are often represented playing musical instruments. They are important elements in the representation of his realm and appear on the r... more

Tobatsu Bishamonten

Tobatsu Bishamonten is one of the manifestations of Bishamonten, the Guardian King of the North, who is usually included in a group of Four Guardian Kings (Shitennō), protectors of the four directions. However,... more

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

Piece

Heian period (794–1185)

One of the Four Guardian Kings

The Four Guardian Kings (Shitennō) protect the four quarters of the universe in the four cardinal directions, warding off evil and guarding the nation. In Japan they are typically placed around the main altar o... more

Excerpts from Bai Juyi's "Biography of a Master of Drunken Poetry" (Suigin sensei den)

Comprising just four columns of Chinese calligraphy removed from a long handscroll, this precious fragment of early eleventh-century calligraphy has been mounted as a hanging scroll. It was brushed by the celeb... more

Shinto Deity as a Seated Courtier

This small statue of a seated courtier is a classic example of a Shinto deity (kami) represented in human form. The artist constructed it through the ichiboku-zukuri (single-block) method, which uses one piece ... more

Mirror with the Deity Zaō Gongen

Zaō Gongen, the protector deity of Mount Kinpusen in Nara (Yoshino district), is considered the local Shinto manifestation of Buddhist deities as well as one of the most important divinities of the Japanese rel... more

Scroll of Mudras

This handscroll depicts hand gestures known as mudras in Sanskrit, the Indian language in which many early Esoteric Buddhist texts were written. In Japan, the gestures are called insō, the Japanese term for a C... more

Daishōgun

Daishōgun (Great General) was a popular guardian spirit stationed at vulnerable locations in the capital of Kyoto, such as the northeast, where special shrines were established according to Onmyodō, or Chinese ... more

Zaō Gongen

Zaō Gongen is a rare example of a purely Japanese deity in the Buddhist pantheon. Many of the religious practices associated with Zaō took place in remote temples deep in the mountains. Through these rites, mou... more

Flying Apsaras (Hiten)

Apsaras, or hiten in Japanese, are flying celestial beings that accompany Buddhas. These two examples, which display apsaras riding clouds and playing musical instruments, are believed to be part of a group of ... more

Kongō-hō Bosatsu (Vajrasattva)

Heian period (794–1185)

Scroll of Mudras

This handscroll depicts hand gestures known as mudras in Sanskrit, the Indian language in which many early Esoteric Buddhist texts were written. In Japan the gestures are called insō, the Japanese term for a Ch... more

Guardian Figure (Ni-Ten)

Heian period (794–1185)

Guardian Figure (Ni-Ten)

Heian period (794–1185)

Kannon Bosatsu

Heian period (794–1185)

Scroll of Deities of the Diamond World Mandala

This iconographic handscroll features representations of the thirty-seven principal Buddhist deities from the Diamond World Mandala, along with auxiliary deities, amounting to a total of forty-nine deities. Acc... more

Shō Kannon

The frontal pose and flattened drapery are evocative of Shō Kannon’s status as the principal incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Produced during the late Heian period in Japan, when w... more

Sketch of an "Inviting Rain" Mandala

This unusual mandala, a sketch from a compendium of esoteric Buddhist images, set in the watery world of dragon kings, was used in rites to end drought. Interestingly, there are no known polychrome or highly fi... more

Guardian King of the Four Directions

This statue, along with 1975.268.165, is from a set of the Guardian Kings of the Four Directions, Hindu demigods who were absorbed into the Buddhist pantheon as protectors of the teaching. The stocky figures re... more

Sutra Tray

Long use as a container for sutras is indicated by the shadowy imprint of ten scrolls visible on the bright red lacquer interior of this finely made rectangular box. That it was one of a number of trays for a l... more

Bugaku Mask (Sanju)

Representing one of twenty standard characters that appear in Bugaku dance performance, this mask is a fine example of the exaggerated realism that captures a symbolic emotion or expression for dramatic stage e... more

Shinto/Buddhist Votive Plaque with Image of Jizo (Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva) Attached to a Circular Mirror

A Shintō icon that reflects the mutual influences in Shintō and Buddhist practices is the kakebotoke, a Buddhist image set on a disk that is at times hung on the closed doors of a Shintō shrine to represent the... more

Dainichi Nyorai

As Supreme Buddha of the Cosmos, from which the entire universe emanates, Dainichi Nyorai (Sanskrit: Mahavairocana Tathagata) is the central object of devotion in the esoteric sects of Buddhism. Here, Dainichi ... more

Segment of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyō)

This five-line segment of a sumptuous scroll of the Lotus Sutra perfectly embodies the aesthetics and religious practice of the late Heian period. The text, from chapter 19, is a litany of fabled fragrances. Th... more

Iconographic Drawing of Saturn (Doyō)

Rituals dedicated to the stars and planets were introduced to Japan from China in the ninth century together with Esoteric Buddhist teachings. Doyō (Sanskrit: Shanaishchara), or the planet Saturn, is one of the... more

Memyo Bosatsu

This iconographic drawing represents Memyo Bosatsu, a deity of sericulture who provides the poor with clothes. The bodhisattva is thought to have originally been a deity indigenous to Chinese popular cults that... more

Three poems from the “Later Collection of Japanese Poems” (Gosen wakashū), known as the “Karasumaru Fragment” (Karasumaru-gire)

Traditionally attributed to Fujiwara no Sadayori (Japanese, 995–1045) Heian period (794–1185)

Daiitoku Myōō

Daiitoku Myōō (Sanskrit: Yamantaka) is one of the five Great Light Kings of Esoteric Buddhism. His Sanskrit name means "one who stops the power of the King of Hell." He is shown with multiple heads, eyes, legs,... more

Iconographic Drawings of the Five Kings of Wisdom (Myōō-bu shoson)

The Five Great Kings of Wisdom (Godai Myōō) are ferocious-looking deities who ward off evil in order to protect the Buddha’s law. The opening section of this scroll shows various depictions of Fudō Myōō, the Im... more

Storage Jar

This piece was excavated from a kiln site in Aichi Prefecture, near present-day Nagoya. Split at the time of firing, it was never used; yet it is a fine example of the simple beauty of the random effects produ... more

Daishōjin Bosatsu, from “Album of Buddhist Deities from the Diamond World and Womb World Mandalas” (“Kontai butsugajō”)

A serene bodhisattva, or compassionate Buddhist deity, wearing an elaborate golden crown sits on a large lotus pedestal. The rainbow of colors on the body, garments, and halo are remarkably preserved from the t... more

Fudō Myōō (Achala-vidyārāja)

Fudō Myōō is the most widely represented of the Buddhist deities known as Myōō, or Kings of Brightness. A fierce protector of the Buddhist Law, he is a direct emanation of the Buddha Dainichi Nyorai, the princi... more

Haguro Mirror (Haguro kyō) with Birds and Flowers by a Stream

Related to the Shintō notion of the mirror as an object of almost magical potency was the custom of dedicating personal mirrors to Shintō shrines. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries hope for salvation in B... more

Three Poems from the “Later Collection of Japanese Poems” (Gosen wakashū), or “Shirakawa Fragment” (Shirakawa-gire)

Traditionally attributed to Monk Saigyō (Japanese, 1118–1190) Heian period (794–1185)

“Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” Chapter 5 of the Lotus Sutra

This sutra once formed part of a much larger set of handscrolls depicting all twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures. Each handscroll consists of a pictorial front... more

Kongōyasha Myōō

Kongōyasha Myōō is one of the Five Great Guardian Kings in Esoteric Buddhism. His ferocious aspect is a manifestation of the wrath of the Five Wisdom Buddhas against evil. Kongōyasha Myōō is presented with thre... more

Three-Pronged Vajra Ritual Implement (Sankosho)

For Esoteric Buddhist ritual prayer and incantations, a set of vajra pestles (kongōsho) and a bell (kongōrei) would be placed upon a bronze stand. Heian period (794–1185)

Votive Mirror with Eleven-Headed Kannon

Images of deities carved in bronze mirrors (kyōzō) had spiritual and ritual significance in the late Heian period. The incised representation of the Eleven-headed Kannon (Ekādashamukha) merges visual and symbol... more

The Guardian King Bishamonten

Bishamonten (Sanskrit: Vaishravana), the Guardian King of the North, is one of the four protectors of the cardinal directions, who, together with eight other fearsome kings, comprise the Twelve Devas (Jūniten) ... more

“Devadatta,” Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra

This sutra once formed part of a much larger set of handscrolls depicting all twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures. Each handscroll consists of a pictorial front... more

Guardian King of the Four Directions

This statue, along with 1975.268.164, is from a set of the Guardian Kings of the Four Directions, Hindu demigods who were absorbed into the Buddhist pantheon as protectors of the teaching. The stocky figures re... more

Page from the Illustrations and Explanations of the Three Jewels (Sanbō ekotoba), known as the Tōdaiji Fragment (Tōdaiji-gire)

Calligraphy attributed to Minamoto no Toshiyori (Japanese, 1055–1129) Heian period (794–1185)

Page from Illustrations and Explanations of the Three Jewels (Sanbō e-kotoba), one of the “Tōdaiji Fragments” (Tōdaiji-gire)

Illustrations and Explanations of the Three Jewels was originally compiled in 984 by the courtier-poet Minamoto no Tamenori as an introductory guide to Buddhism. The “Three Jewels” of Buddhism comprise the Budd... more

The Secrets of the Nine Luminaries (Kuyō hiryaku)

Designed to foretell destiny and to help overcome the influence of unfavorable stellar configurations, the rituals of Esoteric Buddhism, imported from India and combined with native Daoism, played an indispensa... more

Bishamonten

These printed images of Bishamonten (Sanskrit: Vaishravana), the divine guardian of the north, were found inside a sculpture of the deity in the Jūrin'in subtemple of Nakagawadera, a temple northeast of Nara. T... more

Anchira-taisho Jochi

The subject of this iconographic drawing, which originally belonged to Kōzanji, a temple in the mountains northwest of Kyoto, is generally identified as General Anchira (Andira in Sanskrit), one of the twelve g... more

Great Wisdom Sutra from the Chū sonji Temple Sutra Collection (Chūsonjikyō)

The frontispiece to this sutra chapter shows a dramatic three-quarters view of the Buddha seated with two bodhisattvas. Seven figures pay obeisance to the Buddha, with the six in front raising offerings of food... more

Great Wisdom Sutra from the Chūsonji Temple Sutra Collection (Chūsonjikyō)

The frontispiece of this sutra chapter illustrates the Buddha’s first sermon, at the Deer Park near Sarnarth in India. The Buddha and the two bodhisattvas who flank him are seated on lotus platforms. Behind the... more

Mirror

Accession Number: 17.118.116 Heian period (794–1185)

Mirror

Accession Number: 17.118.105 Heian period (794–1185)

Jar

Accession Number: 2002.447.10 Heian period (794–1185)

Hand of a Buddha

One of the most common mudras in Japanese Buddhist sculpture—an open hand with an inflected index or third finger touching the thumb—symbolizes peace and the exposition of Buddhist teaching. It is most often as... more

Mirror

Accession Number: 25.215.24 Heian period (794–1185)

Aizen Mandala

This ink drawing from the early twelfth century appears to have been made as a guide for creating a painted mandala—a schematic diagram of an array of Buddhist deities used for rituals. The central figure is Ai... more

Gakkō Bosatsu, from “Album of Buddhist Deities from the Diamond World and Womb World Mandalas” (“Kontai butsugajō”)

This page depicts the Bodhisattva of Moon-Radiance (Gakkō Bosatsu). It comes from a book of iconographic drawings representing the vast array of Buddhas and bodhisattvas depicted in the Diamond World (Kongōkai)... more

Mirror

Accession Number: 1975.268.158a Heian period (794–1185)