The Journey

Kasuga Shrine Mandala

  • 71
  • Japan
  • Kamakura period, 13th century
  • Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
  • H. 39 1/2 x W. 15 3/4 in. (100.3 x 40 cm)
  • Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation
  • Kasuga Shrine
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Kasuga was believed to be the Pure Land (celestial realm) of the Buddha Shakyamuni on earth. The shrine formed a single institutional complex with Kofukuji Temple, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of which were understood as the "original forms" (honji) of the "local manifestations" (suijaku) enshrined at Kasuga. Mandalas that represent the relationship between the temple and shrines were an essential component of an aristocratic pilgrimage cult from at least the eighth century. Such paintings allowed for aristocrats to make pilgrimage and perform the complete repertoire of rituals without ever leaving home.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bruce Schwarz

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