Important Cultural Property
1 hanging scroll
Hanging scroll; colors on silk
H 91.3 (upper 12.4 added later), W 41.9
Kamakura period/13th century
Formerly kept in Shoren-in temple, Kyoto
Nara National Museum
Fugenenmei-ho is the procedure of praying for more profit and the prolongation of life and the Fugenenmei image is the principal image for this procedure. The figures of the Fugenenmei image can be largely divided into two types: those with two arms and the others with 20 arms. It is said that the Tendai sect valued the former, whereas the Shingon sect valued the latter. This painting was handed down to Shorenin Temple, the monseki temple of the Tendai sect. The figure represents the two-armed Fugenenmei image with a Tokkosho (vajra) in its right hand and Tokkorei (vajra with a bell) in the left hand. The Fugenenmei Bodhisattva rides on a three-headed elephant stepping on a daikongorin, which is supported by a number of smaller elephants. The style of this figure follows the Fugenenmei Kongo Saimyo Darani Kyo translated by Fuku and although there are some small differences, it is quite similar to the figure style described in the Matsuodera book, which was created in the late Heian period.
Although re-coloring is applied to this painting and the upper section above the crown (Gobutsuhokan) is replaced with silk, the mild round face of Bodhisattva, small metal pieces (kirikane) and the original bright coloring that can be detected through soot smearing the painting show the characteristics of the Buddhist paintings of the Heian period. On the other hand, the inside of the halo is painted in silver without using kirikane and the white elephant, which is often represented with flower and bell decorations, is bare. Such modest solemnity draws a clear line from the paintings in the Matsuodera book and suggests that it was created not in the Heian period, but in the early Kamakura period.