Portrait of Tendai Daishi

Historical period(s)
Nanbokucho period, 14th century
Ink, color, gold on silk
H x W (image): 87.7 x 55.8 cm (34 1/2 x 21 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase —Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Buddhism, Japan, kakemono, meditation, Nanbokucho period (1333 - 1392), portrait, priest
Provenance research underway.

The Japanese revere the Chinese Buddhist theologian Zhiyi (538–597) who founded the Tiantai (Tendai in Japanese) school of Buddhism. Tendai Daishi, as he is known in Japan, also distinguished himself as a scholar of the Lotus Sutra, a important text of East Asian Buddhism. The Japanese Buddhist priest who introduced the teachings of the Tendai school to Japan, Saicho (767–822), brought sketches of the Tendai patriarchs from China. In Japan, production of formal portraits of these patriarchs of China and Japan began during the Heian period (794–1185), but few early works survive. Here, Tendai Daishi’s hands form a symbolic gesture (mudra) that signifies meditation. The cowl draped over his head is topped with a small weight, also used for meditation.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 46, p. 59.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 178-179.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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