Fugen (Samantabhadra) and Ten Rasetsunyo (Rākṣasis)


Fugen (Samantabhadra) and Ten Rasetsunyo (Rākṣasis)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Kamakura period, 13th century

Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk

H 112.0, W 55.0



Fugen-bosatsu (Samantabhadra), who is riding on the back of a white elephant, and his attendants, such as two Boddhisattvas (Yakuō-bosatsu or Bhaiṣajya-raja and Yuse-bosatsu), two guardian deities (Tammon-ten or Vaiśravạna and Jikoku-ten or Dhṛtarāṣṭra) and ten Rasetsunyos (female Rākṣasas), are depicted on a cloud; the cloud is slowly moving toward a Buddhist monk who is in the process of studying the Hoke-kyō (Lotus sutra). The ten Rasetsunyos are supposed to protect the Buddhist monks who are reciting the Hoke-kyō (Lotus sutra). In earlier paintings during the Heian period, images of ten Rasetsunyos used to be depicted in Chinese style costumes. Later on, Rasetsunyos in the Japanese style Jūni-hitoe dress, as seen in this paintings, began to be painted. The Hoke-kyō (Lotus sutra) was worshipped especially by the ladies of the high society in the Heian period, because the Hoke-kyō (Lotus sutra) was the only Buddhist scripture saying that women as well as men could go to heaven. Those ladies may have identified themselves with the Rasetsunyos attending Fugen-bosatsu.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.37, no.22.

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