The Buddha's Nirvana, Heian to Kamakura period@Important Cultural Property
colors on silk central hanging scroll 123.0cm~93.3cm
right scroll 124.3cm~44.5cm
left scroll 124.3cm~44.5cm
@This unique triptych of the Buddha's Nirvana is a format not found anywhere else in Japan. There are poetic inscriptions in the colored plaque-like shikishigata found on each of the flanking scrolls and 39 cartouche-like tanzaku on which the names of bodhisattvas and others are written. These features mark this painting as particularly unusual in form.
@Art historian Nakano Genzo has speculated that "there may have been a continental (Chinese) model (Jp. funpon) that was used as the underdrawing for this Nehan-zu" on the basis of several facts: the inscription on the right-hand scroll differs from the extant text of the Daihan nehankyo, the Great Sutra of the Buddha's Nirvana, and the messenger conveying her son's fate to Maya bunin, the mother of Shakyamuni, in the heavens is the Buddha's disciple Up?li (Jp. Ubari) rather the usual Aniruddha (Jp. Anaritsu) in both the inscription on the left and in depiction itself. These features correspond to those in the manuscript of the Butsumokyo found in Dunhuang, which is in the Stein collection (Gakuso, No. 1, 1979.3).
@There are only two tanzaku on the upper right of the central scroll, but while the other labels indicate the names of bodhisattvas and the like, these intriguingly describe the action, stating "[U]bari rises to [Tushita]ri Heaven to inform Maya" and "Maya Bunin descends from heaven" allowing us to surmise these were the points stressed in sermons at the Buddhist ritual assemblies conducted on the anniversary of the Buddha's nirvana.
@ At the bottom of the center scroll can be seen various animals such as the mythical karyobinka (Sk. Kalavinka), a lion, elephant, tiger, monkey, ox, deer, boar, rabbit, sheep, rhinoceros, turtle, bird of prey, parrot, goose, pheasant and other birds, etc.