Prince Shōtoku Taishi (573-622) is regarded as the founder of Japanese Buddhism. Soon after his death he became an object of widespread veneration. For a number of centuries many tales - some true, others fictional - were passed down and illustrated first in large-scale wall paintings, and later, in the more convenient hanging scroll format suitable for illustrating sermons.
This painted scene is one of nine separate fragments from what was probably originally a set of hanging scrolls; scenes from Shōtoku's life would have been arranged in chronological sequence down through the compositions of each scroll. Most of the surviving scenes are from his early life, but with a few also from his later years. The illustration here shows the Prince's birth on the left and on the right the four-year-old Shōtoku praying for his father. This lack of right to left chronology proves that this is an assemblage of fragments.