Japanese / White-Robed Kannon (Byaku-e Kannon) / early 15th centuryJapanese
White-Robed Kannon (Byaku-e Kannon)
early 15th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: White-Robed Kannon (Byaku-e Kannon)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1433
Creation Date: early 15th century
Creation Place: Japan
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: Ink on silk
Parts and Pieces: hanging scroll
Dimensions: 71 1/2 x 22 5/8 in.
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1998.001
Credit Line: Asia Society: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller II Collection, partial gift of Leighton and Rosemarie Longhi
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: The white-robed Kannon is a popular Buddhist female deity and Bodhisattva of Compassion. Seated in an informal pose on a rock grotto, her traditional abode, and gazing out over the ocean, this image is best exemplified by the triptych of monochromatic silk hanging scrolls depicting Crane, White-Robed Kannon, and Monkey by Mu Ch'i (Chinese, active late 13th century) at Daitokuji temple in Kyoto. The iconography of the white-robed Kannon belongs to the doshakuga tradition of imagery--depictions of Buddhist themes intended to convey the subjective experience of receiving spiritual insights or revelations. The painting illustrated here seems to be closest in brush style to Ryozen (Ryosen, fl. 1348-55), an early suiboku painter of the later Kamakura school, who painted almost exclusively Buddhist subjects. The bodhisattva is treated as a beautiful, languid female figure, clad in a simple white robe and bedecked with gold jewelry, her divinity suggested only by the small crown she wears and her halo, a perfect circle of mist. A sketch by Kano Tanyu (1602-1674) of the white-robed Kannon, executed in the Kanbun period (1661-1673), resembles the composition of this work, and has been ascribed to a work by Mokuan Reien (active 14th century) currently in the Hofer Collection at the Fogg Sackler Museum. A similar composition of the white-robed Kannon from the same period is held in the Metropolitan Museum Collection (1985.120.2). The white-robed Kannon illustrated here has a very sensuous body, especially when compared with the Metropolitan example. According to Professor Kawai of Keio University, specialist in Muromachi ink painting, Japanese conventions of patternization can be seen in the depiction of the water. Barbara Brennan Ford, curator of Japanese art at the Metropolitan Museum, discusses the conventional treatment of the shading in the painting. She states that while the earlier, original works showed naturalistic shadings, later copies, such as the present work, illustrate harder edges, creating outlines as opposed to shadows.
Related Document Description: Gillman, Derek. 'A New Image in Chinese Buddhist Sculpture of the Tenth to Thirteenth Century.' Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 1982-83. London, 1984, pp. 33-44.
Related Document Description: Fontein, Jan, and Money L. Hickman. Zen Paintings and Calligraphy. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1970.
Related Document Description: Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art, ed. Supreme Treasures of Suiboku-ga. Okayama, 1993.
Related Document Description: Tezuka, Miwako. 'A White-robed Kannon in the Asia Society.' Orientations (October 1998): 43-44.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1998.001
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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