figure in 3/4 profile with crown, and hair tied up with many wisps coming loose, looking toward R; figure holds a book out in PR hand, close to chest; light halo around head

Manjushri Bodhisattva, early 15th century

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Monju, the bodhisattva of transcendental knowledge, was particularly revered among Zen Buddhists. In this painting by a Zen monk-painter, Monju’s wisdom is at its purest—he appears as a young boy with wispy hair, wearing a gold crown and earrings, and carrying a book of scripture. Active as a monk and semiprofessional painter at the monastery Tōfukuji in Kyoto, Kichizan Minchō and his followers built an influential painting studio specializing in the production of Buddhist images, both traditional, heavily pigmented icons as well as ink paintings like this one. Minchō was among the earliest Japanese Zen monk-painters to master the technique of monochrome ink painting, which had originated in China. He helped shape the early development of this art form in Japan, as his works and those of his followers circulated and became important models for other Zen painters active at monasteries farther afield.

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Details
Title
Manjushri Bodhisattva
Artist Life
1352 - 1431
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.1
Provenance
Nozaki Hirota; Inoue Kaoru
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 95
Curator Approved

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figure in 3/4 profile with crown, and hair tied up with many wisps coming loose, looking toward R; figure holds a book out in PR hand, close to chest; light halo around head