The Bodhisattva Fugen (Fugen Bosatsu)

Historical period(s)
Heian period, 12th century
Ink, color, gold, and silver on silk
H x W (image): 155.9 x 83.3 cm (61 3/8 x 32 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

anjali mudra, Buddhism, elephant, halo, Heian period (794 - 1185), Japan, kakemono, throne
Provenance research underway.

The bodhisattva (enlightened being) known in Japanese as Fugen was widely worshiped by Japanese Buddhists beginning in the Heian period (794-1185). Portrayals of Fugen riding a sacred six-tusked white elephant were inspired by descriptions in the Lotus Sutra, the most widely known sutra (sacred text) in East Asian Buddhism.

Paintings of Buddhist deities were regarded as sacred images. No expense was spared in the production of these devotional paintings, which were hung only for specific ceremonies. The magnificence of this image is the result of special techniques used primarily for Buddhist subjects, such as the application of pigment from both the front and the back of the silk and intricate applications of cut gold leaf.

Published References
  • Butsuga Ruijyuu. vol. 1, Japan. .
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2, pt. I, pl. 9.
  • Genshoku Nihon no Bijutsu [A Kaleidoscope of Japanese Art]. 30 vols., Tokyo, 1966-1980. vol. 7: p. 27, pl. 16.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 66.
  • Mara Miller. Expressions of States of Mind in Asia: Proceedings of the INALCO-UNO Workshop held in Naples. Naples, May 27, 2000. pl. 2.
  • Jan Fontein, Rose Hempel. China, Korea, Japan. Propylaen Kunsgeschichte Berlin. pl. XXXVIII.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 3, vol. 2: p. 153.
  • Yanagisawa Taka. An Example of Fujiwara Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (Samantabhadras). no. 22 Tokyo, 1962. pp. 29-42.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 56, fig. 23.
  • Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics. vol. 2, Washington, London. p. 78.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 94-95.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 94.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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