Mandala of Hie Sannō Shrine (J., Sannō Miya Mandara)


Mandala of Hie Sannō Shrine (J., Sannō Miya Mandara)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Muromachi period, 15th century/Bun’an 4, 1447

Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk

H 120.7, W 68.1



This is one of the so-called shrine mandalas which depicted the views of shrines and were used at worship services. Twenty-one sanctuaries of Sannō shrine on Mt. Ushio are described. The shape of the mountain is expressed in a romantic manner with a lot of mist and haze, whereas the buildings are depicted precisely and are well distinguished from the landscape. The name of each sanctuary is written in a tanzaku-shaped rectangular space next to each sanctuary building. This fact indicates that the artist put more emphasis on reality rather than on the mysteriousness of the shrine. In the upper part of the scroll, twenty-one Shintoist deities, the same number of Buddhist deities corresponding to the above-mentioned Shintoist deities, and their holy letters are depicted, because this scroll was a major object used for worship services. In this picture, the existence of Shintoist deities, who were thought to be transformed images of Buddhist deities, are emphasized by describing the real view of the shrine as a major motif. Judging from the decoration, which extends continuously from the picture to the mounting, this painting has been mounted as a hanging scroll from the beginning. This is another noteworthy aspect of this work.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.69, no.52.

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