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Monju Dressed in a Robe of Braided Grass (Nawa Monju)

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

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


dated 1415



About this artwork

The earthly abode of Monju, the bodhisattva of wisdom, was thought to be on Mount Wutai in Shanxi province, China. At this site, pilgrims reported seeing the deity in a variety of more humble manifestations. In an account by the 11th-century scholar Lu Huiqing, Monju appeared as a strangely clad boy, advising Lu that the Buddha’s teachings were simple and clear despite the pedantic commentaries that obscured them. Lu scolded the youth for his impertinence, only to realize that he was speaking with Monju.

An inscription dated 1415 by the monk Godaichi Shûgaku attests to the particular affection in which Monju was held in Zen circles. In the search for enlightenment, Monju’s scorn for excessive dependence on academic learning underscored a fundamental precept of the Japanese Zen branch of Buddhism.


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Arts of Asia


Monju Dressed in a Robe of Braided Grass (Nawa Monju)


Japan (Artist's nationality:)

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 paper


92.7 × 40.3 cm (36 1/2 × 15 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Samuel M. Nickerson Fund

Reference Number


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