Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect (J., E-inga Kyō)


Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect (J., E-inga Kyō)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Nara period, 8th century

Handscroll; ink and colors on paper

H 26.4, L 115.9




The text of this E-inga-kyō is the Buddhist scripture Kako Genzai Inga-kyō, which covers the biography of Shaka (Śākyamuni) including his previous life before birth, his birth, his Buddhistic training, and his attainment of the state of Buddha. The Chinese version of this scripture, translated by Priest Gunabatsudara (Quinuobatuoluo) is well known. Originally it consisted of four volumes, but when illustrations are included it consists of eight volumes. Text was written in the lower half of the handscroll, and illustrations corresponding the text passages were painted in the upper half of the scroll. According to an old document in the Shōsō-in treasure house, some sets of this sutra scrolls were made during the Nara period, but not a single complete set of scrolls is extant. Only some segments of the scrolls made during the Nara and early Heian periods are still kept in Jōbon Rendai-ji temple, Daigo-ji temple, Tokyo University of Fine Arts, Idemitsu Art Museum, and by some private collectors. The scroll introduced in this article is a segment from the last part of the Jōbon Rendai-ji version, which is the first half of the second volume of the sutra. In the described scenes the Prince has decided to enter priesthood, and his wife and men are trying to stop him by suggesting pleasant things. The paintings in vivid colors show characteristics of the painting style during the period of the Six Dynasties in China.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, pp.32-33, no.18.

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