Ajaseo-kyo (Ajātaśatru-sūtra), Vol.2


Ajaseo-kyo (Ajātaśatru-sūtra), Vol.2

calligraphy / Nara


Nara period, 8th century/Tenpyō 14, 742

Handscroll, ink on paper

H 26.7, L 1582.0; 34 papers


Formerly kept in Tōdai-ji temple, Nara

This is one of the scrolls from the Issai-kyō (collection of all the Buddhist scriptures) copied by the order of Empress Kōmyō in commemoration of her dead father. This Issai-kyō sutra collection is often called First-of-May sutra according to a prayer written at the end of the scroll by the Empress Kōmyō bearing the date May 1st, 740.
It took twenty years since 736 to copy all the lines of this sutra collection at the studio for sutra copying, and it is assumed that this sutra collection originally consisted of about seven thousand scrolls. This number implies that almost all the scrolls of Buddhist texts which existed in Japan in those days were included in this collection. Considering of the solemn calligraphic style and strict proofreading, this is the most excellent and representative copied sutra in Japan both in quality and quantity. The Ajase-ō-kyō (Ajātaśatru sutra) introduced in this article is based on the biography of Ajase, who became King by killing his father (the former king) and imprisoning his mother. Later on, Ajase became a Buddhist under the influence of Shaka (Śākyamuni or Buddha) and repented of his sin and was finally saved by Buddha. According to an old document kept in the Shōsō-in treasure house, it is known that this volume was copied in April, 742 by Kurehara-no-Ikuhito, who was working at the studio for sutra copying.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, pp.72-73, no.54.

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