Past Exhibitions

Masterworks of Esoteric Buddhist Painting
October 15, 2014 - November 16, 2014

In the first half of the ninth century, the Buddhist priests Kūkai (774–835) of the Shingon sect and Saichō (767–822) of the Tendai sect returned from China bringing with them to Japan new Esoteric (mikkyō) sects of Buddhism. Mikkyō, which advocates the performance of secret rituals in order to acquire virtue and benefits in this life, quickly became popular with the Heian period aristocracy. The painted images used in such rituals held closely to Indian prototypes, giving them an exotic feel that still comes through today. This exhibition features masterworks of Esoteric painting-including The Twelve Devas (KNM), Kujaku Myōō (Anrakuju-in), and The Star Mandala (Kumeida-dera)-allowing us to explore the visual forms born out of this school of Buddhism.

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