The 7th Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems – “Illustration of Lotus Sutra” and “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine”: Two Major Works in Seikado
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held the 7th Seminar with two external speakers on December 27th, 2018. The first presentation entitled “Origin of the Scrolls of Diseases – ‘Illustration of Lotus Sutra’ owned by Seikado Bunko” was given by Dr. Satomi YAMAMOTO of Kyoritsu Women’s University, and the second presentation “Takashina style in ‘Mandala of Kasuga Shrine’ owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum” was given by Prof. Masahiko AIZAWA of Seijo University. They focused on the two collections of Seikado that deserve the attention but are not widely presented yet.
According to Dr. YAMAMOTO, it can be deduced from the ending prayer that the ” Lotus Sutra” in Seikado Bunko, illustrating sutra on the head of the scroll, was created in 1140 (Shaoxing (Shoko) 10) by 40 people who made a Buddhist connection with each other and were led by Daoyin (Doin) of the Tendai sect of Buddhism who was active in the South Song Dynasty in the mid-12th century. She explained that its Biyu Chapter (Hiyu-Bon) illustrates a sick person who receives a bowl of medicine and the Lotus Sutra states that people who vilify the sutra would suffer from sickness such as dwarfness, hunchback and bad breath, which are illustrated in the “Illustration of Lotus Sutra.” Additionally, she made interesting remarks that the National Treasure “Yamai-no-Soshi,” drawn from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period, may have been inspired by the text of the Lotus Sutra and this illustration of the Lotus Sutra in Seikado Bunko, and that the creation of “Yamai-no-Soshi” must be considered while taking into account the situation of Japan and China in the 12th century, the worship of the Lotus Sutra, and the relationship between monks and general worshippers then.
Prof. AIZAWA presented that “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” which is owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum and said to be from the 14th century, is a unique work that puts names of each building in white rectangles and illustrates gods of Ten Shrines, their Buddhist metamorphoses, and divine deer, in addition to the scenery of Kasuga Shrine, rare except for the Mandala of Kasuga Shrine owned by the MOA Museum of Art. He explained that what is interesting is that, compared to the one of the MOA Museum of Art which has been corrected many times, this artwork largely keeps its original form and uses high-quality paints to draw gods and Buddha in delicate touches. He presented in a detailed slide that it must have been drawn by a follower of Kanetaka TAKASHINA who drew “The Miraculous Origins of the Kasuga Deity” owned by the Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections). He also made an in-depth remark that such “Mandala of Kasuga Shrine” may have had the function of inviting the god and making Kasuga on the spot by spreading the scroll, in the same way as “Mandala of Hie-Sanno Shrine.”
More than 20 external attendees attended the seminar, and it was very meaningful.