Kegon-kyō (Avataṃsaka-sūtra), (Nigatsudō Yakegyō)

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Kegon-kyō (Avataṃsaka-sūtra), (Nigatsudō Yakegyō)

calligraphy / Nara

Nara period, 8th century

Handscroll, silver dust on deep-blue paper

2巻

Formerly kept in Tōdai-ji temple, Nara

These sutra scrolls are from the set of sixty volumes of the Kegon-kyō (Avataṃsakasūtra) which were found in the ash after Nigatsu-dō hall of Tōdai-ji temple had burned down in February 1667. This sutra is sometimes called Burned sutra of Nigatsu-dō Hall because it had been damaged by fire.
This sutra is thought to have been used at the memorial service for Jitchū, which was part of the Shuni’e ritual of Nigatsu-dō hall. It is the only one extant sutra written with silver dust on deep blue paper during the Nara period. Usually, silver dust turns black because of oxidation, but the silver dust of this sutra is still shiny and has an incomparably beautiful appearance. Judging from the strict and tense letter style, it is conceivable that it was written by an excellent sutra copyist.
The Nara National Museum keeps five sheets from vol.5, two sheets from vol.6, nine sheets from vol.21, and one sheet from vol.23. These seventeen sheets are now mounted on two hadnscrolls. The upper parts of the sheets are undamaged. Damages are found in the lower parts of the sheets, but they do not affect the letters of the sutra.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.76, no.56.

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