Important Cultural Property
Ink and colors on silk. The cabinet-shrine: black lacquered wood
H 18.3, W18.5 (each)
Kamakura period/13th century
Provenance: Shoshu Raigo-ji, Shiga Prefecture
Nara National Museum
This board-painting-type Ryokai (Two Worlds) Mandala is enshrined in a small elegant shrine-like container called a Zushi, which has similar double doors on the front and the back so that the mandalas can be appreciated from either side.
The painting is done on a white pigment-applied cloth pasted on a cypress board and features elaborate details in each small section. The design follows that of the Genzu Mandala brought into Japan by Kukai. However, the Taizo-kai (Womb World) mandala differs from that of Genzu Mandala in that the Kokuzo-in is divided into upper and lower parts and the Senju Kannon and Kongozao Bodhisattva representations are relatively small in the upper part. This Ryokai Mandala excels in decoration, such as the use of kirikane (a technique to cut gold/silver leaf into strips or different shapes and paste it on designs) lines in dividing lines, halos, the clothing lines of the primary deity and the complicated ground patterns in the Taizo-kai mandala and in the mesh-like patterns surrounding the Shiinkai in the Kongo-kai (Diamond World) mandala.
The deities are painted in flesh color with shades of red and drawn with thin sumi lines. The clothes are painted in vermilion, red or aerugo, while the clothing lines are drawn in black. The petals of the lotus pedestal are painted in vermilion and red and outlined in white. The child-like facial expressions on the deities, the bright high-quality pigments and the beauty of the intricate kirikane patterns and the coloring all contribute to convey the atmosphere of the late Heian period. The year of creation must be after the early Kamakura period. The black lacquered small Zushi was created during the same period and represents the traditions of the late Heian period. This Manadala was originally owned by Shojuraigoji Temple.