Optical Survey of Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji

Photograph of the investigation held at Nara National Museum. (The existence of inscriptions is confirmed using light source equipment that emits light of various wavelengths)

 The Department of Research Programming has concluded a Contract for Optical Survey and Creation of High Definition Digital Content regarding Buddhist Art with Nara National Museum and has been carrying out joint research. As part of this contract, we studied and photographed the Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji from May 11 to 17, 2009 at Nara National Museum.
 Daitoku-ji’s Five Hundred Luohan is a very important work in art history, and a total of one hundred pieces of artwork were created by artists Lin Tinggui and Zhou Jichang from Junki 5 (1178) in Ningbo in Southern Song over a period of almost 10 years. Out of the existing 96 pieces (excluding the complementary works made in the Edo period), 37 pieces in total have been confirmed to have inscriptions, but these descriptions difficult to decipher with the naked eye due to aging deterioration.
 This survey started with the goal of learning about these inscriptions using optical methods such as fluorescent recording, and an additional 11 inscriptions (43 inscriptions in total) were confirmed. This is a meaningful finding not only in terms of art history, but also in terms of the history of this period and the history of religion.
 A conference will be held in mid-June by persons involved from both organizations based on the images shot during this survey, and will serve as investigation material for the second survey scheduled to be performed in autumn. Additionally, these survey results will be presented in part at Sacred Ningbo, the Origin of 1300 years of Japanese Buddhism: Everything Has Come from Here (http://www.narahaku.go.jp/exhibition/2009toku/ningbo/ningbo_index.html) (link rot). It will also be summarized as a report sometime in or after the next fiscal year through further survey and investigation.

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