Portrait of Tendai Daishi

Historical period(s)
Nanbokucho period, 14th century
Medium
Ink, color, gold on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 87.7 x 55.8 cm (34 1/2 x 21 15/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase —Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1976.16a-c
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Keywords
Buddhism, Japan, kakemono, meditation, Nanbokucho period (1333 - 1392), portrait, priest, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

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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