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Shōtoku Taishi e-den ('Illustrated biography of Prince Shōtoku Taishi'), fragments from a set of hanging scroll paintings

1500/1550

British Museum

British Museum

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.

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Details

  • Title: Shōtoku Taishi e-den ('Illustrated biography of Prince Shōtoku Taishi'), fragments from a set of hanging scroll paintings
  • Date Created: 1500/1550
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 32.80cm (sheet 1); Width: 56.50cm (sheet 1); Height: 32.80cm (sheet 2); Width: 62.50cm (sheet 2); Height: 32.80cm (sheet 3); Width: 60.50cm (sheet 3); Height: 32.80cm (sheet 4); Width: 54.60cm (sheet 4); Height: 32.80cm (sheet 5); Width: 73.80cm (shee
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: prince/princess; myth/legend
  • Registration number: 1931,1116,0.1.1-9
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Period/culture: Muromachi Period
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Coldwell, W
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