The frontispiece to this sutra chapter shows a dramatic three-quarters view of the Buddha seated with two bodhisattvas. Seven figures pay obeisance to the Buddha, with the six in front raising offerings of food. The silver used to articulate sections of the ground, the ribbons that hang from the tree behind and the altar before the Buddha, and the offering bowls raised before him provides a subtle, pleasing contrast to the gold used elsewhere in the composition.
This chapter from the Great Wisdom Sutra (Daihannyakyō; Sanskrit: Mahaprajnaparamita) is one of more than five thousand scrolls of Buddhist scripture that were dedicated in 1176 to the temple Chūsonji in northern Japan by the nobleman Fujiwara Hidehira (died 1187) for the salvation of his father, Motohira (died 1157). Throughout the sutra, absolute truth is equated to emptiness, and wisdom is praised as the best means of attaining enlightenment.
Great Wisdom Sutra from the Chū sonji Temple Sutra Collection (Chūsonjikyō)
Heian period (794—185) ca. 1175, Japan
Handscroll; gold and silver on indigo-dyed paper
10 1/16 in. x 24 ft. 5 13/16 in. (25.6 x 746.3 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10028-0198