(Some of the works of theIllustrated Tales of the Three Buddhist Jewels
Ink on paper
Kamakura period/Bunnei 10(1273)
Tokyo National Museum
The Illustrated Tales of the Three Buddhist Jewels (J. Sanbô ekoboba) is a collection of Buddhist tales edited by the great mid-Heian poet and scholar Minamoto Tamenori in 984 (Eikan 2). The tales are organized into three volumes, one for each of the three Buddhist jewels: Buddha, Dharma (teachings), and Sangha (community). The first volume consists of tales of Sakyamuni's past lives (Skt. jataka); the second volume consists of eighteen biographies of people after the time of Prince Shôtoku (574-622); and the last section records commentaries and tales about Buddhist ceremonies. Each scroll has a preface. It appears that the books were originally illustrated, but the pictures have been lost.
Each page contains eight or nine lines with a mixture of Chinese characters and cursive script (J. kana). A later portion of the text was copied on the eighth day of the eighth month of Bun'ei 10 (1273). One leaf is missing at the end of the first scroll, but this otherwise nearly complete collection has been handed down at Kanchi-in of Kyôôgokoku-ji (commonly known as Tô-ji) Temple in Kyoto.