Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Manjusri) Crossing the Sea (Primary Title)
文殊菩薩騎獅像 鎌倉-室町時代 絹本着色 (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

14th-15th century
Hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on silk
Sheet: 72 × 21 3/4 in. (182.88 × 55.25 cm)
Image: 38 1/2 × 16 in. (97.79 × 40.64 cm)
Not on view

In lavish color, gold, and fine lines, this painting shows Monju, bodhisattva of wisdom, seated on a lion and descending to earth from the Buddhist heavenly paradise. Monju holds his two attributes: a sword to protect against ignorance and evil and alotus surmounted by a sutra, representing Buddhist texts. Monju is often paired with Fugen, as in the sculpture displayed on the platform in this gallery.

This painting demonstrates the exquisite technique of cut-gold leaf (kirikane), a process practiced as early as the Heian period. In this technique, gold or silver foil, cut into various tiny patterns, are used to decorate either paintings or sculptures. The intricate gold leaf in this painting is applied on Monju's garments and the sutrato represent the radiant light that emanated from the deity and his sacred object.

Remounted in 2014 with fund provided by the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation.
Kamakura (1185-1333) or Muromachi period (1392-1573)
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
"Japanese Art from the Virginia Museum," Delaware Art Museum, September 23, 1982 - October 31, 1982
Julia K. Murray, "The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - The Asian Collection," Orientations (Hong Kong), Vol. 12, no. 5, May 1981, p. 40 (ill.).
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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