Yuzu Nembutsu Engi (Account of the origins of the Yuzu Nembutsu Buddhist sect)

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Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 14th century
Ink, color, and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 29.2 x 1155 cm (11 1/2 x 454 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase โ€” Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Buddhism, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), makimono
Provenance research underway.

During the Kamakura period (1185-1333), following a period of warfare between rival warrior families, peace was established under the rule of a shogun appointed by the emperor. In the same period as the establishment of the first Zen Buddhist monasteries--which taught that enlightenment could be achieved through meditation and personal effort--Buddhist movements led by charismatic monks promised salvation and redemption from the cycle of rebirth through faith in the Buddha Amida (Amitabha). In didactic form the text of this handscroll, which is one of a pair, relates the doctrine and deeds of the monk Ryonin (1072-1132), the founder of the Yuzu Nembutsu sect. The scroll recounts that through the power of Amida, both people and deities would join the faith. Even those who had fallen into hell could be saved by belief in the Buddha.
Many handscrolls of engi, literally  "cause and effect" with regard to the founding and histories of Buddhist temples, were commissioned and produced during the Kamakura period, an era of intense religious proselytizing and significant increase in Buddhist belief among the common people. Pairs of scrolls of the Yuzu nembutsu engi are particularly numerous.

Published References
  • Seiko Tokunaga. "ๆ–‡ๅŒ–ใ‚’ๆ˜ ใ™้กใ‚’็ฃจ." Brush up mirror reflecting culture. Japan. pgs. 161-166, figs. 1-5.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 14, vol. 2: p. 155.
  • Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics. vol. 2, Washington, London. p. 78.
  • Seiko Tokunaga, Society for the Comparative Studies in Japanese Culture. Journal of Comparative Studies in Japanese Culture vol. 15. vol. 15 Japan. p.95.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 102.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 182-183, 184-185.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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