Priest Ikko in His Final Hours

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

    14th century
  • Geography

  • Material

    Ink, color, and gold on silk
  • Dimension

    H x W (image): 131.3 x 52.5 cm (51 11/16 x 20 11/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    The sequence of scenes in the painting are composed in three ascending registers and are read from bottom to top. The first shows Ikko in his final hours, surrounded by vowed disciples and pious laity. The second scene depicts the procession carrying the seated corpse of Ikko. And the final, uppermost scene describes the cremation ceremony. The image is bordered on left and right by inscriptions on white ground.
  • Inscriptions

    1. (James T. Ulak, January 2005, From curatorial justification for acquisition report)
    The inscription on the right names the site and place of death: 18th day of the llth month (lunar) Koan 10(corresponding to 1289) at Rengeji, Higashiyama, Sakata, Omi Province. Rengeji, a temple founded by Ikko, is located in the present-day township of Maibara on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa. On the left is a somewhat more complex combination of inscriptions. The first, written in kambun, or modified Chinese style, is a summation of texts central to the Muryoju Sutra (Sutra of Immeasurable Bliss)-- a key sutra in the Pure Land Buddhist tradition-- and is advanced as a slogan which decries the illusory nature of existence and exhorts only focused dedication (ikko) to the Amida Buddha, Lord of the Western Paradise. This dedication is manifest by the perpetual prayer “Namu Amida Butsu” (Hail the Amida Buddha). The study of this summary text or slogan was purportedly key to Ikko’s conversion to Pure Land Buddhism during his tutelage under the monk Ryochu, a disciple of Honen (1133-1212), founder of the revolutionary sect. The last section of text in the left-hand vertical scheme is a poem written in Japanese hiragana with a few Chinese characters. It might be translated:
    Confidently and alone, the moon sets beyond the western mountain.
    But what of me? Can I be so bold?
    But what of me? Can I be so bold?
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    In the Shadow of an Apocalypse (October 14, 2017 to October 28, 2018)
    Religious Art of Japan (December 18, 2002 to January 4, 2015)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment and Harold P. Stern Memorial Fund
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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