Detail View: The AMICA Library: Taima Mandala

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: 
Creator Name-CRT: 
Japan, Kamakura Period
Taima Mandala
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
14th Century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on silk
Overall: 140cm x 134.8cm
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund
Popular Buddhism spread throughout Kamakura Japan aided by the efforts of traveling monks who, having become disenchanted with the stodgy conservative Buddhist center of learning in Kyoto's monasteries, sought to reinvigorate the religion's teaching through independent study and communication with the common man. Illustrated handscrolls of the period graphically record the lives of famous priests traveling through the countryside, giving sermons, treating the infirm and the elderly, and holding open town meetings to spread the faith to commonfolk. New, more appealing interpretations of religious texts were espoused, and, at the same time, simpler rituals made practice of the faith more understandable for the populace. One traditional concept that captured peoples' attention in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries noted the existence of the Western Paradise, a place of salvation and rebirth to the faithful. Derived from an old sutra, its teachings and principal deity of worship, Amida, were championed bypriests of the popular Jodo (Pure Land) sect. The continuous recitation of a short prayer or chant was said to ensure a believer's entrance into the Western Paradise where Amida resided. This painting is a pictorial map (mandala) illustrating this heavenly vision with Amida at its center, flanked by his compassionate attendants and bodhisattvas in a glorious palatial setting. Overhead celestial angels and musicians provide accompaniment. All is described in a golden palette augmented by mineral blues, reds, oranges, and greens. The borders of this mandala contain sequential narrative scenes from a legendary religious text whose message extols the efficacy of meditations that lead one to rebirth in the Pure Land. The oldest version of this subject is an eighth-century textile once owned by the Taimadera temple located just south of Nara, hence the derivation of the painting's title. Such mandalas were important didactic tools and visual aids in spreading belief in Pure Land sect Buddhism in medieval Japan.Few examples dating before 1400 have found their way to the West. M.R.C.
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