Illustrated Biography of Prince Shotoku

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Illustrated Biography of Prince Shotoku

Heian

秦致貞筆

平安時代・延久元年(1069)

color on twill-weave silk

10 panels

National Treasure

Various miracles that were thought to have occurred during the life of Prince Shōtoku, a statesman and scholar of the Asuka period, are portrayed in this work according to the Prince’s biography. They were originally used to decorate sliding doors in a hall called the Eden in Hōryūji’s Eastern Precinct, and are now exhibited as ten separate panels.
The buildings in the Eastern Precinct were built during the Nara period on the ruins of Ikaruga Palace, the former home of Prince Shōtoku, and they became a center for the worship of the Prince.
The paintings focus on the Ikaruga area of Nara where Shōtoku lived, displaying a vast natural landscape in panoramic form that includes almost 60 different scenes depicting stories from the prince’s life. A coloured slip of paper beside each scene contains a simple explanation. The paintings were created by an artist named Hata no Chitei during the Heian period, between the second and fifth months of 1069. There are various works that illustrate the Prince’s life, but this is both the oldest and the largest.

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