Jingo-ji Temple Sutra.

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Jingo-ji Temple Sutra.




Late Heian period, mid-12th century


Decorated Sutra scroll from the Buddhist Canon known in Japanese as the Issaikyo (Sanskrit: Tripitaka). The text written in gold characters on indigo-dyed paper, with lines ruled in silver. With the seal of Jingoji temple in red at the beginning of the text. In the original paper wrapper, or cover sheet, in gold and silver ink on indigo paper decorated with hosoge karakusa vine patterns, with title slip written in gold. Painted frontispiece in gold dust of the Historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) giving a sermon at Vulture Peak. The scroll axles with engraved gilded metal knobs with a leafy design.

The red rectangular seal stamped on the first text sheet indicates that this sutra was one of 5,400 scrolls comprising the complete Buddhist canon, known in Japanese as the Issaikyo and in Sanskrit as the Tripitaka. The Jingoji Ryakki (Abbreviated History of Jingoji) records that Emperor Toba (1103-1156) sponsored the compendium around 1149, the date that appears on some of the wooden sutra axles in the set. Historians have postulated that Toba intended to dedicate them on his pilgrimage to Kumano Shrine in 1153. After Toba’s death his son, the former emperor Go-Shirakawa (1127-1192), completed and in 1185 presented the scrolls to Jingoji, a temple on Mount Takao northwest of Kyoto, when he moved there after abdicating his throne. In the eighteenth century, 4,722 scrolls were inventoried at Jingoji. In the nineteenth century, hundreds from the set were sold to finance repairs to the temple; others were stolen; 2,317 scrolls of the original set, designated Important Cultural Properties, remain at Jingoji temple.


From the collection of Alan Feinstein