The Buddha Shaka with Two Attendants


The Buddha Shaka with Two Attendants

Paintings / Nanbokucho / Muromachi

Nanbokuchō–Muromachi period, 14th–15th century

Color on silk

本紙 縦135.7 横60.4


Inscriptions:「奉修補 住持秀範大徳 于時大永六年 丙戌 五月三日」 

Sakyamuni, or the Buddha, sits in the center on a lotus flower. The figure riding an elephant to the viewer's left is Samantabhadra, while the one riding a lion to the right is Manjusri. Samantabhadra is the bodhisattva of compassion and Manjusri the bodhisattva of wisdom. Together, they flank Sakyamuni as his assistants.
The vivid reds, blues, greens, and browns of the garments catch the eye, as do the whites of the lotus petals and Samantabhadra's skin.
Sakyamuni holds a bowl in his left hand. His right hand is positioned above with thumb and middle finger bent, as if picking something up. There are few extant examples of painting or statuary with Sakyamuni striking this pose. Samantabhadra and Manjusri are both seated and they appear to be gazing benevolently at something.
The circles behind the heads of the three deities represent light emanating from their bodies. The artist has imbued these with a sense of depth through shading and by adding color to the reverse side of the painting too.
This valuable work demonstrates the strong Japanese affinity for Chinese-style art that borrowed forms of expression and coloring from Song-to Yuan-dynasty Buddhist paintings.
It provides a glimpse into an elegant aesthetic world view.

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