Buddhist Sutra “Bimashōkyō”


The hand copying of Buddhist sutras was believed to confer great merit and spiritual benefit, so that from the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century numerous manuscripts were reproduced throughout the country. In the late Heian period, there arose the Mappō (age of Dharma decline) doctrine, which held that Buddhist teaching, and consequently the protection of Buddha, would decline. At a time of religious pessimism coupled with the very real decline of the aristocracy, many court nobles sought to attain the after-death passage to the Pure Land of Buddha (i.e., Heaven) by commissioning elaborately decorated scrolls. Presented here is a volume from the Issaikyō (a Buddhist corpus), commonly known as Jingo-ji kyō, so named because it was handed down in the Jingo-ji Temple in Takao, Kyoto. A premier hand-copy of the late Heian period, it was reportedly donated to the Jingo-ji Temple by the retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa (1127−92) at the request of the retired Emperor Toba (1103−56). The corpus originally consisted of more than 5,400 volumes in total, but only 2,317 still remain as the rest were scattered outside the temple. The scroll is made of dark-blue paper ruled with silver lines. Texts are copied in gold, the cover is designed with a Hōsōge-style arabesque drawn with gold and silver pigments, and the frontispiece is decorated with a picture of the preaching Buddha in the background drawn in gold and silver.

Last updated: May 11, 2015