- The Faith and Aesthetics of the Aristocracy
- October 15, 2014 - November 16, 2014
Throughout the Heian period, the aristocracy became increasingly obsessed with Pure Land Buddhism, especially with ways to avoid the Buddhist hells and to find salvation in the Pure Land paradise. They also avidly worshiped the Lotus Sutra, which exhorts the building of temples, the production of Buddhist statues, and the copying of sutras as direct ways to gain merit. This religious fervor fed the constant production of exquisite Buddhist paintings, sculptures, decorative sutra manuscripts, and other objects used for Buddhist worship. Aristocrats also patronized a great quantity of widely varied Buddhist rituals. The masterworks featured in this exhibition—including National Treasures Legends of Kokawa-dera Temple and Illustrated Biography of the Priest Hōnen (Chion-in)—exemplify the aspirations of Heian period elites to achieve rebirth in paradise and to accumulate merits in this life.