Masaki Art Museum Spring 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 21st time on the 25th floor Atrium of Park Hotel Tokyo, in Tokyo Shidome district. From the collection of the Masaki Art Museum, we will present the exhibition that related to the temples and shrines. We have gathered a collection of Buddhist art works, including Buddhist statues that are objects of worship and Buddhist altar fittings that have been used in temples, and tea utensils with inscriptions associated with sacred and religious lands. We hope you enjoy people’s longstanding faith and creativity that these works have been imbued with.

[Date] March 13 (Fri.) – June 11 (Thu.), 2020
[Place] Atrium, Park Hotel Tokyo (25F)
[Fare] Free of Charge



[About the Masterpieces]

1. Seated Buddha   Northern Wei Period, China

When North China was unified by the Northern Wei dynasty around the 5th century, Buddhist teachings were strongly promoted. The creation of Buddhist statues evolved from the conventional ancient Buddha, which was based on the Gandhara style, a new style based on the Gupta style from India. This work is a model that was created in the late 5th century. Unique design elements, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth that look as if they have been pasted on and the halo that has been carved with a different form as the original flame pattern. Its slender face and extremely tight stomach are also distinctive.

The halo and the seated statue were molded together using copper that is tinged with red. Since the pedestal is small, it is believed that it had originally been seated on a different pedestal.

2. Konpeipestle   Kamakura Period

The Konpei had originally been a tool for treating eye disease by removing the membrane of the patient’s eye in ancient India. In esoteric Buddhism, it was incorporated as a ritual implement during rituals such as the abhiseka (carried out when vowing to follow Buddhist precepts or when a practitioner inherits a certain rank), as it was believed to remove humankind’s membrane of ignorance to open the mind’s eye.

In this work, the bead-like protrusion in the center called the kimoku and the patterns to the left and right are decorated by three lotus petals. The fine pistils at the tips of the lotus petals have been carved very elaborately. The parts on each side called the ko have an octagonal cross section, and the tips have a spherical ornament resembling a gem.

3. Sacred Water Jar   Nara Period

The sacred water jars that are used as ritual implements in esoteric Buddhist temples are paired with the sacred perfume jars to be called niki (two jars). They are used to store sacred water that cleanses the impurities of the body, the place of meditation, the offerings, and the altar fittings. Although standard sacred water jars have a tea bowl shape with a lid, this work is a rare version with a gem shape without a lid.

On the sides, there are the inscriptions of “Shin-Yakushi-ji” and “Tenpyo 12th Year March,” and it is a ritual implement associated with Shin-Yakushi-ji that is believed to have been made in March of 740. Although the actual year of completion of Shin-Yakushi-ji, which is a branch temple of Todai-ji,  is unknown, according to records at Todai-ji, it was founded in the 747 by the Empress Komyo wishing for the recovery of her husband, Emperor Shomu.

4. Tea Bowl inscribed Tobihino
5. Tea Bowl inscribed Fukunokami Yoshu Ware by Fujita Totaro   Modern

This is a work created by the tea bowl maker Fujita Totaro, who continuously works to revitalize Shino ware, which was produced in the Mino Province (in the south of present-day Gifu Prefecture) in the Momoyama Era but had ceased thereafter, in the modern day. Shino ware is produced using a glaze made of feldspar and its highlights include its white surface, the small holes that appear, the ceramic paintings that resemble iron brushwork, and the changes in the tones on the surface.

The work number 4 of the inscription named Tobihino is another name for Kasugano, which spreads at the foot of Kasugayama located in the city of Nara in Nara Prefecture. In the past, this was an ancient site for rituals honoring Kasugayama, and in the present day, it is a part of the grounds of Kasuga-taisha. According to the record of January 23, 712 in the “Shoku Nihongi”, when the capital of Japan was transferred to Heijyo-kyo in Nara in 710, a fire beacon platform called the tobuhi was set up here. It is said that the name of Tobihino came from this fire beacon platform. The ceramic painting that resembles the beacon rising from the ridge of Tobihino leaves an impression.

Work number 5 has a thin coating of brown glaze all over and a ceramic painting resembling powerful speckles from its torso to its inside.

It is inscribed with Fuku-no-Kami, evoking the image of various gods worshiped in Japan for bringing good fortune. A well-known example is the god of fortune that appears in the kyogen “Fuku-no-Kami” while scattering beans and saying “good fortune inside, good fortune inside.” As captured in the idiom “good fortune will come to the homes of those who smile,” this god is portrayed in the play as appearing with a loud, high-pitched laugh.

“Infinite Time and Space Amid Cognizant Japanese Beauty”

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