About this artwork
One of the most important and beautiful records of Amidism, a Buddhist salvation theology, is this rare narrative handscroll. It recounts details from the life of Ryōnin (1073–1132), a charismatic Tendai monk who founded the Yūzū sect. The Buddhist concept of yūzū refers to the interrelationship or initial oneness of all things. The dynamically new approach to salvation that Ryōnin developed from yūzū reasoned that if all things are interrelated, the meritorious action of one individual benefits many. Followers of Amidism registered their names in a tally book, pledging to recite the brief nembutsu prayer, an invocation of the Amida Buddha, at specific times during the day. Contrasted with the dense and elite ritual of Buddhist teachings of the Heian period (794–1185), this simple, more populist approach to Buddhism had enormous appeal. Commissioned and executed in the mid-fourteenth century, during the revival of the Yūzū sect, this lengthy horizontal scroll is unrolled from right to left and intended to be studied in successive sections each approximately the width of the viewer’s shoulders.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Legends of the Yūzū Nembutsu Sect
- Handscroll; ink, colors, and gold on paper
- 30.5 × 1176.9 cm (12 × 460 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment