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Water Moon Kannon (Avalokitesvara)
Important Cultural Property
Inscription by Tennan Myōju
1 hanging scroll
Hanging scroll; ink and light colors on silk
H 88.0, W 36.7
Kamakura period/14th century
Nara National Museum
1179(絵220 A)
This painting represents a Suigetsu Kannon with a round halo who is sitting on a rock sticking out of the water. With a Youryu (willow) wand in a flower vase on the side, the Suigetsu Kannon calmly stares at the moon reflected on the surface of the water on the bottom left. A stream of water (a waterfall) on a sheer cliff is represented on the upper part of the background. Although Byakui Kannon is also seen in the lotus section of Taizo Mandala, the appearance is different. The image of Byakui Kannon seen in this painting seems to have first appeared in Zenrin (zen temples) in the Southern Sung period, these kinds of paintings were often drawn in the period between the Sung and Yuan periods in China and after the Kamakura period in Japan.

Tennan Myoju, who wrote the tribute, was from the Rinzai Bukko sect and a disciple of Koubou Kennichi, who was one of the best disciples of Mugaku Sogen. He served as the chief priest of Jochi-ji Temple and Manju-ji Temple in Kamakura and Shinnyo-ji Temple and Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto and founded Tanba Ankoku-ji Temple around the Kenmu period. He passed away in 1345, at the age of 79. "Tokusan" indicates Keitokusan Ankoku-ji Temple. Therefore, this painting is considered to have been drawn around the Kenmu period when Tennan was involved with Ankoku-ji Temple.
This painting is valuable as one of the earliest Suibokuga paintings (ink paintings) in Japan. At that time, there were various paintings including paintings combining traditional iconographies such as Juichimen Kannon and Nyoirin Kannon with Suibokuga technique and paintings of Byakui Kannon, which were probably created in Zenrin using Suibokuga, coexisted. In addition, the degree of perfection of these pictures differs depending on the painter. This painting has the features of a painting style of a transformation period, which still applied the techniques of Buddhist painting in lines and ink representation.