Fugen Bosatsu(Samantabhadra)

Heian period, 12th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

A masterpiece among works in the Tokyo National Museum collection, this is a significant example of Japanese Buddhist painting, which reached its zenith in the latter half of the Heian period (794-1192). In the 12th century, intricate expressions became particularly refined, as can be seen here in the thin yet firm and smooth outlines, subtle variances and combinations of colors realized by high-quality and opulent pigments, and the elaborate decoration of cut gold leaf applied in thin thread-like strips (a technique known as kirikane). Let your eyes slowly trace these expressions first, as you would with a piece of abstract art.In the Heian period, the Lotus Sutra gained devout belief. Fugen Bosatsu is a Bodhisattva that manifests himself to the believers of this sutra to guard them. The hint of vermillion added to his pure white skin, and the outlines rendered delicately in Indian ink (instead of vermillion, as is usual in Buddhist paintings), work together with the softly glowing kirikane halo to create a kind of clarity.In this work, among the falling lotus and tilted slightly forward, Fugen Bosatsu looks as if he is just about to come forth. This graceful Bodhisattva, as if appearing from a dream, is also an embodiment of the beauty of Japanese Buddhist paintings.


  • Title: Fugen Bosatsu(Samantabhadra)
  • Date Created: Heian period, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w745 x h1591 mm
  • Object Title: 普賢菩薩像
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 舞い落ちる花の下で白い象に乗る普賢菩薩を描いた、平安時代後期の仏画を代表する作品。普賢菩薩は、文殊菩薩とともに釈迦如来の脇に従う菩薩であるが、法華経を唱えて修行する者があれば、六本の牙をもった白象に乗って現れ、守護すると説かれている。 菩薩は白象の背に置かれた蓮華の台座に坐り、伏目がちに合掌する。白象は鼻で紅蓮華(ぐれんげ)を巻き、頭頂には三化人(さんけにん)がいる。菩薩の上部には花の天蓋があり、両側から花々が美しく降り散る。菩薩や白象のからだは透きとおるような白色で描き、輪郭を細く淡い墨の線でくくり、かすかに朱のぼかしをほどこす。 菩薩の着ける天衣(てんね)や台座などには群青、緑青、黄土、丹、朱、金箔などを用い、金箔を細く切って貼る截金(きりかね)も多用している。截金文様の技巧は精緻そのものである。数多い普賢菩薩像のなかでも屈指の名品であり、和様化した平安時代後期の仏画の典型である。
  • Object Date: 平安時代・12世紀
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100141

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