March 2007

Scrolls of Faith: Japanese Religious Art from the Tenth to the Fourteenth Centuries

March 20–March 28, 2007

Japanese Buddhist and Shinto scrolls and artworks were the subject of a major exhibition held at Sebastian Izzard Asian Art Gallery in March 2007. Organized by the specialist dealer Mitsuru Tajima of London Gallery, Tokyo, the exhibition featured twenty-five works, including paintings, sutras, sculpture and textiles.

Among the highlights was a set comprising a late Heian period “Jingo-ji Sutra,” and sutra wrapper. Like other sutras of this period it is written in gold on dark blue konshi paper, the cover features a floral motif and the inside cover depicts Sakyamuni teaching his disciples at Vulture Peak.

Also featured was a very rare hanging scroll entitled Fugen Enmei Bosatsu dating from the Kamakura period (ca. 13th century). The twenty-armed deity is shown supported by elephants on a single vajra disc, a possibly unique hybrid image of preexisting Tendai and Shingon iconography.

A number of sculptures completed the exhibition. One of the finest is a standing figure of Amida Buddha dating from the Kamakura period. The wood figure, decorated in gold and colored pigments, has inlaid crystal eyes. The wide, open-hip stance of the left leg is indicative of a new Chinese style that was imported during the Kamakura period, and gives the work a character unlike that of other small statues of this date.