The Bodhisattva Monju

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Ink, color, gold, and silver on silk
H x W (image): 129.6 × 56.7 cm (51 × 22 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Buddhism, halo, Japan, kakemono, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), lion, Mahayana Buddhism, Manjushri, sutra

To 1905
Yamanaka & Company, to 1905 [1]

From 1905 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1905 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] Undated folder sheet note. Also see Original Kakemono List, pg. 143, 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.

[2] See note 1.

[3] 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


The bodhisattva (enlightened being) known in Japanese as Monju Bosatsu (or Manjushri in Sanskrit) is a Buddhist deity who represents wisdom. Paintings of Monju often show him riding a lion and holding a sacred scripture (sutra) in the form of a book or scroll. Here he holds in his left hand a lotus, a symbol of purity, which is surmounted by a book. In his right hand is a weapon to protect against ignorance and evil. Monju is often depicted with the bodhisattva Fugen, who rides an elephant and represents teaching, meditation, and practice of the Buddha. Together they are attendants to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, but each bodhisattva is also individually worshipped.

Published References
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 98-99.
  • Yuriko Kuchiki. Yamanaka Shokai. Japan. p.119.
  • Donald S. Lopez Jr, Rebecca Bloom. Hyecho's Journey: The World of Buddhism. Chicago, December 2017. p. 216, fig. 24.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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