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Kobo Daishi (Kukai) as a Boy (Chigo Daishi)

A work made of hanging scroll; ink and color on silk.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of hanging scroll; ink and color on silk.


15th century


Artist unknown

About this artwork

Kukai (774–835) was an influential religious leader responsible for introducing Shingon Buddhism, a form of Esoteric Buddhism, to Japan in the ninth century. After his death, Kûkai received the name Kôbô Daishi (Great Teacher of the Divine Law) and was revered as a saint.

The inscription at the top of this painting is a quotation from the Goyuigo, a set of instructions believed to have been prepared by Kukai for his disciples. In the passage, Kukai describes a dream he had as a child in which he was carried aloft on an eight-petaled lotus flower to a heavenly realm where he conversed with various Buddhas. The practice of depicting religious leaders as children during miraculous moments in their lives would have been keenly reassuring to Buddhist devotees.


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Arts of Asia


Kobo Daishi (Kukai) as a Boy (Chigo Daishi)


Japan (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk


86.7 × 48.9 cm (34 1/8 × 19 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Foundation

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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