Emma-ten and Two Attendants; below, Emma-o and Two Attendants

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Ink, color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 67.2 × 43.6 cm (26 7/16 × 17 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

attendant, Buddhism, Japan, kakemono, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333)

Temple Nishi-muro-in, Koyasan, Japan [1]

To 1904
Yamanaka & Company, to 1904 [2]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1904 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] See Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record.

[2] Undated folder sheet note. Also see Original Kakemono List, pg. 136, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[3] See note 2.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Nishi-muro-in Temple, Koyasan
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


Seated astride a white bull, the Buddhist deity Emma-ten is attended by two bodhisattvas (enlightened beings). Emma-ten is worshiped as the defender of the Buddhist law, a king of the Buddhist hell, and a judge in the world of the dead. Below these imposing figures, in a smaller scale, Emma-o is shown in a different manifestation in the costume of a Chinese official, the customary way in which judges of hell were depicted. Chinese painters who devised the earliest images of this subject envisioned the kings who would judge the merits and sins of the deceased as powerful civil magistrates.

This painting is a rare surviving example of this complex subject presentation. Notable are the fine, full delineation of figures and complex color technique typical of Buddhist paintings of the late Heian period (794-1185), when members of the imperial court were avid patrons of Buddhism.

Published References
  • Genshoku Nihon no Bijutsu [A Kaleidoscope of Japanese Art]. 30 vols., Tokyo, 1966-1980. vol. 27: pl. 04.340.
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2, pt. I, pl. 16.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 68, vol. 2: p. 173.
  • H. Batterson Boger. The Traditional Arts of Japan: A Complete Illustrated Guide. Garden City. p. 29.
  • Yoshiaki Shimizu. An Individual Taste for Japanese Painting. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 136-149, fig. 1.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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