Survey and photography of Bukkoji Temple’s “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene [Illustrated Biography of Shinran, Zenshin Shonin]”
The “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene [Illustrated Biography of Shinran, Zenshin Shonin]” (2 scrolls) are picture scrolls depicting the life of Shinran (1173–1262) from his entry into the priesthood until the erection of his mausoleum following his death and were passed down by Bukkoji Temple, Kyoto. These scrolls were produced under the influence of picture scrolls of Shinran’s life that were passed down by Senjuji Temple, Mie Pref. The second set of scrolls is known to include text and portrayals that are hard to accept. And it is said that those text handwriting was those of the Emperor Godaigo. In principle, Bukkoji Temple’s picture scrolls are not shown to the public. Since the scrolls have been carefully passed down, they lack any evidence of restoration efforts like repaired creases. Despite its aging, silver paint on the scrolls has retained its brilliance. The scrolls are also notable for their colors, which remain as vivid today as when the scrolls were originally produced. Nevertheless, there are strongly divergent views on the date of production, with one view dating the scrolls back to the middle ages (15th century) and another placing the date in the modern age (the 17th century or afterwards).
With the understanding and cooperation of the Temple’s administrative office, Tetsuei TSUDA, Tatsuro KOBAYASHI, and Seiji SHIRONO of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems studied and photographed Bukkoji Temple’s “Zenshin Shonin Shinran Dene” on February 23 and 24, 2011 in the Temple’s great hall. Since previous opportunities to study the scrolls were severely limited, the current research sought to obtain basic data on such illustrated biographies and digitally photograph each illustration in high resolution so that Bukkoji Temple’s picture scrolls could contribute greatly to the study of cultural properties. Findings from this research were presented along with an interim report at a seminar of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems on February 29th (Tetsuei TSUDA, “Bukkoji Temple’s ‘Illustrated Biography of Shinran’”). The scene in the first scroll, “Dream at the Rokkakudo [shrine],” features the most distinctive portrayals, so wall panel of this scene was displayed on the wall of the floor corridor of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems to further publicize the existence of this work. This research was undertaken with a 2011 grant from the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies. This research is one result of a research project of the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems entitled Study on Digital Imaging of Cultural Properties. (Tetsuei TSUDA, Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems)