male figure seated on raised chair with shoes on ground; holds metal object in PR hand and an open black object in PL; spotted white robe with black grid pattern, and green sashes; figure is bald and has large earlobes

Portrait of Rigen Daishi, 16th century

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In this portrait, master monk Shōbō (832–909), referred to as “Rigen Daishi” after his death, takes a seated position on a raised chair with shoes placed before him. In his right hand he holds a vajra, a Buddhist ritual weapon used in esoteric Buddhist rituals. Rigen Daishi was the founder of Daigoji, a Shingon Buddhist temple in southeastern Kyoto. Shingon ("True Word”) is a sect of Esoteric Buddhism founded in Japan in the 900s, and stresses the importance of meditation through complex ritual ceremonies and objects. Esoteric Buddhist teachings are transmitted orally in secret which cannot be found in texts.

The inscription at the top is drawn from Hishō mondō (Collected Questions and Answers on Esoteric Matters) by Raiyu (1226–1304), a later Shingon monk.

般若
皆従意宝生
所説之妙法
皆以轉成就

Prajñā
All things are formed by the mind
The path to wisdom that is spoken of
comes entirely from quietude

Details
Title
Portrait of Rigen Daishi
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.22
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 27
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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male figure seated on raised chair with shoes on ground; holds metal object in PR hand and an open black object in PL; spotted white robe with black grid pattern, and green sashes; figure is bald and has large earlobes