Thousand-Armed Kannon (Sahasrabhūja)


Thousand-Armed Kannon (Sahasrabhūja)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Kamakura period, 14th century

Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk

H 100.8, W 41.0



This is a figure of Senju-kannon (Sahasra-bhuja) with forty-two arms and eleven heads. It is a regular composition of Senju-kannon defined in the Senkō-gan Kanjizai-bosatsu Himitsuhō-kyō sutra (Qian-guangyan Guanzizai-pusa Bimifa-jing sutra). The body of the deity is painted in gold pigment and outlined in red. The decoration of the costume is painted in gold pigment, and white wash is used for the details. The outlines and drapes are rendered with rather broad cut-gold foil. The face is slightly elongated, which reflects people’s iconographic taste during the Song and Yuan dynasties, Mt. Fudaraku (Potalaka) which was the sanctuary of Kannon, is depicted in the background. The outline of the mountain was drawn with soft brush strokes which look like painted in ink. Shading in ink was added over the outline: then it was painted in green, and gold pigment was added at some places. Several kinds of trees are growing on the mountain, though sparsely. At the bottom of the picture there are a waterfall and the sea with waves. A dragon is appearing from the sea, holding a magic jewel. The combination of the dignified expression of the Buddhist figures and the depiction of the natural landscape is excellent. It was an epoch-making attempt by esoteric Buddhist artists to adopt the Yamato-e-style natural landscape.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.58, no.41.

Related Works

Search items related to work chosen