Japanese Works : Myōhō rengekyō

Japanese Works

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This copy of Myōhō rengekyō 妙法蓮華経 (The lotus sutra) is an ornamented sutra (装飾経), known as aigami kondei-kyō 藍紙金泥経 or konshi kondei-kyō 紺紙金泥経 which is a sutra written down on indigo-dyed paper and ornamented in gold and silver. These types of ornamented sutras were popular in Japan in the later part of the Heian period (794-1192). Our particular version was probably made in the 12th century.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Myōhō rengekyō 妙法蓮華経 which had been translated into Chinese by Kumārajīva in the 5th century, was introduced into Japan in the 7th century and it has been regarded as one of the most important sutras in the Nichiren and the Tendai sects of Buddhism (日蓮宗, 天台宗).</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>According to the handwritten note added to the sutra by Ninagawa Noritame 蜷川式胤 (1835-1882), this particular copy had been held at the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社),Hiroshima prefecture, Japan. The note states that the sutra was prepared as a present to a museum in Bavaria in December 1874. The note itself was written by Ninagawa, while he was staying in Tokyo in 1881.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Ninagawa Noritane was a government official and a scholar of art in the early half of the Meiji period (1868-1912). In the Meiji government, he was involved in the administration of Japan's cultural treasures. Ninagawa, together with Heinrich von Siebold, was involved in the preparation of Japan’s exhibits for the Vienna Expo in 1873. This was in turn also related to the establishment of the Tokyo National Museum in 1873, the first museum in Japan. It is likely that during this period, this copy of Myōhō rengekyō became Heinrich von Siebold’s possession, instead of being sent to Bavaria as it was originally intended. As part of Siebold's personal collection, it was donated to Cambridge University Library in 1911.</p>

 


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