Masaki Art Museum Masterpieces Vol. 18

[Summer Exhibition]

Masaki Art Museum, located in Tadaoka, in the Senboku district of Osaka Prefecture, possesses a wide ranging collection of tea utensils, Buddhist art works, and archaeological materials, with a particular focus on medieval painting and calligraphy. An exhibition of its works will be held for the 18th time on the 25th floor Atrium of Park Hotel Tokyo, in Tokyo Shiodome district. The theme of the exhibition on this occasion will be Buddhist art. Since Buddhism was transmitted to Japan around the 6th century, it spread far and wide, and had a great influence on the society and culture of our country. We would be delighted if you would see the way of faith that was put in the works like Buddha statue made as a target of people’s faith and a heirloom tools that has been transmitted to temples and shrines.

[Date] June 14 (Fri.) ~ September 12, 2019 (Thu.)
[Place] Atrium, Park Hotel Tokyo (25F)
[Fare] Free of Charge
[About the Masterpieces]

1. Fudo Myoo (Acala)  Heian Period, 8 -12th Century
Fudo Myoo (Acala) is a religious statue worshiped in esoteric Buddhism, also called the incarnation of Mahavairocana.  The statue usually has a Goma (a demon-fighting sword) in the right hand, and kensaku (a rope which is a symbol of salvation of mankind) in the left hand.
Now most of it is covered with rust, but originally it was of gilded bronze and you can see the wrinkles of garments and yoraku (jewelry with gems) on the breast.  Some traces of gilding also remain.  The tip of the nasal bridge are missing, but you can see that it has a severe look with wide-open eyes and thick eyebrows.  Holes can seen at the top of the head and in the right hand, and as the left palm facing upwards was shaven flat, it probably held accessories and belongings (usually held in the hands of Buddhist statues).

2. Repousse relief of Buddha  Nara Period, 8th Century
Oshidashibutsu (extruded Buddhist image) refers to placing a thin copper plate onto a mold, and striking it with a tool so that it takes the shape of a Buddha statue.  The technique was brought from China to Japan at the turn of the 6th century and was used a lot during the 7th and 8th centuries.  There are many examples of Oshidashibutsu and a variety of images can be seen, such as those of a single figure, those of the Buddha triad, and those with various small figures in them.  As it was relatively simple to create the statues, they were used in several ways, such as for personal worship, in miniature shrines, and as interior temple decorations.  In this piece, the head of the Buddhist statue has been decorated with a small added Buddhist statue, and a statue of Kannon (Bodhisattva) is displayed at a diagonal angle while raising her right hand to her chest.

3. Buddhist Ritual Gong with Peacock Relief  Kamakura Period, 12-14th Century
Sounding stones were originally ancient Chinese stone instruments that were hung and struck with a drumstick.  Only a single one was used, but it is said that in some cases multiple similar ones were hung and used.  In Japan, production was seen around the Nara period.  It was used as an instrument in Mikkyo esoteric Buddhism, and later came to be used in other denominations as well.  This piece was created by crafting bronze, with the thick rim of its diamond-patterned vertical section looping around the edge of its mountain-shaped body.  Hanging rings through which a string can be passed have been attached to the left and right of the upper rim.  There is a lotus flower pattern on the center of the object (the area struck by the drumstick), both sides of which have been decorated with a peacock pattern.

4. Brass Gokosho Club  Kamakura Period, 12-14th Century

Gokosho a type of Buddhist artifact called kongosho (vajra), and is said to have been made based on weapons of Indian mythology.  They were transmitted from China to Japan from the Nara period to the Heian period, and were used in esoteric Buddhism and Zen.  They have a pattern with a central decoration called kimoku, and blades attached to both ends.  Depending on the number and shape of these blades, they are called by various names such as dokkosho, gokosho and nanakosho.
This piece has handles attached to left and right of kimoku with triple lines and double lotus petal decorations, and small cloud decorations have been attached to each of the four blades at both ends.  It is a design in which the four blades surrounding the central blade hang over the exterior.

5. Round Eaves-End Roof Tile Excavated from Akishino-dera Temple  Tenpyo Era, 8th Century

As an element of Buddhist architecture, roof tiles were introduced to Japan from Baekje on the Korean peninsula.  Asuka-dera temple (Nara prefecture), the first temple in Japan with a full-fledged monastery, is known to be the earliest tiled temple in Japan.  Since the end of the 6th century when Asuka-dera was built, roof tiles have been used for the temples throughout Japan.
Akishino-dera is a temple that was built by the monks of the Hosso denomination during the Nara period.  This piece, excavated in 1925, is a roof tile called nokimarugawara and was used on the edge of the eaves.  The fukuben rengemon double lotus petal pattern that shows lotus flowers appears to have been common on nokimarugawara during the Nara period, and here you can take in a large and elegant decorative expression of that time.

Masaki Art Museum
Masaki Art Museum
Masaki Art Museum

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