Nachi Shrine at Kumano, from the Kumano Mandala, a set of three paintings

Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, mid-14th century
Ink, color, and gold on silk
H x W (image): 118.2 × 59.9 cm (46 9/16 × 23 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Buddhism, Japan, kakemono, mandala, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), shrine
Provenance research underway.

Kumano, south of present-day Nara, has been an important religious site and pilgrimage destination from ancient times.

This painting with F1958.18 and F1958.19, form a late medieval pilgrimage mandala representing the three sites--Nachi, Nimasu Shrine, and Hayatama Shrine--often referred to collectively as the Kumano Shrine. While a mandala is generally thought of as a symmetrically arranged diagram used as a meditation reference, sacred topography such as Kumano was also frequently accorded the status of mandala. Journeys through such places whether as represented in a painting or in actual pilgrimage, are thought by many to have beneficial effects.

Japanese Buddhism incorporated indigenous religious beliefs into a wider Buddhist cosmology in a respectful but subsidiary role. The style of Buddhist painting seen here, produced from the second half of the thirteenth century, combines representation of sites and gods sacred to Shinto belief with references to corresponding Buddhist deities.

This painting was produced during the height of Kumano's popularity as a pilgrimage site. Diaries written at that time by imperial and aristocratic visitors contain many references to the journey from Kyoto to Kumano. The painting's high quality suggests the patronage of an important devotee.

Published References
  • Tsuyoshi Kawasaki. The Pictorial Representation of the Pilgrimage to Kumano: The Culture of Shugendo in Muromachi Period. Japan. .
  • Teruo Nakano. Kumano. no. 465 Tokyo. fig. 72.
  • Sekiguchi Masayuki. untitled article. no. 274, March 1989. .
  • Nihon bijutsu kaiga zenshu. 25 vols., Tokyo, 1977-1980. vol. 11: pl. 162.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 97.
  • Laura S. Kaufman. Ippen hijiri-e: Artistic and Literary Sources in a Buddhist Handscroll Painting of Thirteenth Century Japan. Ann Arbor. fig. 69.
  • Bruce Darling. The Transformation of Pure Land Thought and the Development of Shinto Shrine Mandala Paintings: Kasuga and Kumano. Ann Arbor. pl. 129.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 18, vol. 2: p. 157.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 104.
  • Masumi Shimizu. National Treasures: The Record of Imperial Pilgrimage to Kumano Collected Essays, Mitsui Museum. p. 196.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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