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Golden Light Sutra (Konkomyo-kyo), Volume 3, with Hakubyo (Black and White Ink) Painting
National treasure
Height: 25.9cm Total length: 824.7cm
Kyoto National Museum
This is an unusual example of a decorated sutra, in which a completed underdrawing of an illustrated tale is used to copy the sutra. Because the eyes and noses of the figures are not painted on the underdrawing, this sutra is also known as Menashikyo (The Eyeless Sutra). According to its postscript, the one-time narrative handscroll was produced for the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa (1127-92), who passed away soon after its completion. Thus, it is thought that the scroll was converted into a sutra for his repose. The narrative theme of the underdrawing appears to have been taken from either the Tale of Genji or Ariake no Wakare (Parting at Daybreak), which tells of a man who travels incognito by wearing a magic raincoat that makes him invisible. However, this has not been confirmed.