Past Exhibitions

God of Scholarship: Medieval Paintings of Tenjin
February 15, 2022 - March 21, 2022

The Heian-period stateman and poet Sugawara no Michizane (845–903) was falsely accused and exiled to Kyushu in western Japan and later deified as Tenjin. At first, Tenjin was feared as a vengeful spirit, but as time passed he came to be venerated as a god of scholarship and the arts. Partly because Kyushu was a hub for Zen monks traveling to and from China, worship of Tenjin came to be incorporated into the cultural practices of these monks who revered the literary arts and intellectual cultivation, and who were the forefront of cultural exchange between Japan and China.
The twenty-fifth day of the second month marks the day of Michizane’s death and has long been observed as a day for worshipping Tenjin, a tradition still seen at shrines throughout Japan. This exhibition introduces a variety of medieval paintings of Tenjin that were informed by a diverse array of legends and stories.

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