According to the colophon, the figures depicted in the lower part of the print are two samurai of Aizu; the large figure in the front is Isamu Sôkichirô, who has challenged the figure in the rear, Rokuya Ongun Taiyu, to a vendetta.
Mañjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, standing with two celestial attendants. This representation of Manjushri includes six arms, one of which holds a sword, while a narrow book (modeled after books made from palm leaves) lays across his upper hand. Manjushri is wearing an ornamented crown and necklace, and is encircled by a halo of flames.
Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri, with two celestial attendants. Manjushri holds a sword with which he battles ignorance, while the book he holds in his upper hand acts as a symbol of his knowledge and profound insight. The halo of flames surrounding him serve as a marker of his power and divinity.
Multi-colored ink on paper. Prominent reds, yellows and blues. Six figures, three smaller (clothed), three larger (nude or semi-nude). Scene of worship.
In the Jain religion, book production reflects the integral relationship among the laity, monastic community, and the Jina, or enlightened Jain teacher. The dedication of sacred books for shrines is required of devotees, while commissioning a book fulfills the lay obligation of charity, and beholding a book helps the individual achieve the proper mental state for spiritual guidance. It was customary for a lay donor to commission a copy of a text for presentation to his spiritual teacher and ultimately to the temple library. Over the centuries, monastic libraries received great quantities of texts, which were employed in the instruction of monks and nuns, themselves discouraged from practicing the art of painting: one text expressly warns of the power of painting to arouse sensual feelings.
In these colorful pages, the golden-hued Jinas and the monks who venerate them are nude, identifying them as belonging to the Digambara (sky-clad) sect of Jainism. A central concern of many medieval hymns and rituals is curing disease with many of the verses promising relief from sickness. The verse that originally accompanied the page on the right was about dropsy, more commonly known as edema. The patient is reclining, belly visibly swollen. The verse tells us, “Those who have been utterly wrecked by their burdensome, swollen abdomens, who are plagued by the terrible disease of dropsy and have given up all hope, become as handsome as the god of Love himself, their bodies anointed with a life-saving nectar, the dust from your lotus feet.” Reciting this verse in prayer to the Jina brings relief from this unendurable disease.
The page on the left praises the divine drum that resounds on the Enlightenment of the Jina, proclaiming the greatness of his teaching. We see in the upper register the Jina seated in meditation with the naked monk Manatuga at his side. In the lower register two gods beat kettle drums, while a third god dances and beats a tambourine.
It is a round, openwork iron tsuba, in the design of three interconnected irises. The two holes are plugged with gold.
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller hole is to insert kozuka, an ornamental stick. Irises are popular motifs in Japanese art, for their association with Tale of Ise, classical literature from the Heian period (794-1192).
Cast ceremonial sword. The "fan" shape is indicative of the royal eben type. The general shape may be derived from northern, Sahelian influences. The looped handle is also typical of the eben type.
The eben sword form is highly regular, despite being wielded by many different individuals int he Benin kingdom. The creation and distribution of eben is controlled by the oba (Benin king), andits display signifies fealty to the monarchy. The regularity of the form represents the triumph of the kingdom's political constitution over the lesser forms of social organization.
An masked Noh actor dressed as Empress Jingû is holds a catch of a river trout on a pole. The actor wears a brocade kimono with a floral scroll design, tucked into a stiffly starched pair of brocade trousers. His cloak is a green gauze silk with woven gold phoenix designs.
Empress Jingû is a figure from Japan’s mythological past. Warrior and shaman, her legend reappears frequently in Japanese drama, paintings, and prints. Before leading her troops on an invasion of the "Land of Treasure" (Korea), she conducted many rites to consult the gods about prospects for victory. The catch of a river trout was the first token of divine approval.
This painting depicts the fishing scene as it was reenacted in the Noh drama, the classical and highly stylized dance-drama of Japan. Male performers play both genders, usually with a mask. Costumes for the Noh stage are among the most spectacular ever made: here the actor wears a brocade kimono with a floral scroll design, tucked into a stiffly starched pair of brocade trousers. His cloak is a green gauze silk with woven gold phoenix designs. The costume has no relation to ancient history, but instead reflects contemporary stage wear.
Fragment of circular gaming piece carved in elephant ivory in high relief. Standing male figure wearing knee-length robe holds sword in right hand and stabs inverted beast in the chest. Forelegs of beast end in hooves; head of beast characterized by large eye and pronounced nostril. Left arm of figure and rear half of the beast missing. Border contains zigzag pattern with bead motif.
This fragmentary gaming piece comes from a set that originally included thirty pieces used for playing a game similar to backgammon. Fifteen pieces depicted episodes from the life of the Old Testament hero Samson, who was renowned for his feats of strength. The opposing fifteen pieces, including the one under discussion, contained scenes from the life of another hero famed for his physical prowess, Hercules. Although the subject of this particular piece has not been identified with certainty, the scene perhaps portrays Hercules's Fourth Labor in which he captured the savage Erymanthian boar. The themes of physical struggle and triumph represented here and in the other gaming pieces would have alluded evocatively to the contest of wits being played out on the gameboard.
Circular tsuba, made of iron. It has two holes in the middle. Two figures, Kanzan and Jittoku, are carved on the lower right corner. Kanzan, who holds a scroll on his hand, and Jittoku, who holds a bloom stick and pointing to the sky, are looking upward. The two figures are carved slightly higher than the surface. On the back, there is the moon partially obscured by clouds. Gold and silver alloy inlays are applied to the moon and the clouds. Gold is also inlayed in their eyes, parts of the garments, and Kanzan's scroll. Shakudô (copper-gold alloy) is inlayed in Jittoku's bloom and his jacket collars.
Kanzan and Jittoku are Taoist eccentrics of whom little is known, but they are frequently represented (almost always together) in East Asian arts. Both lived in the monastery of Kuo Ching, spending most of their time in the kitchen, and speaking a gibberish unintelligible to anyone, resenting visitors, and noticing them only with insults. Kanzan holds a scroll, which he expounds to Jittoku, who stands by leaning on his broom. Both have a dwarfed and somewhat boyish appearance, but Kanzan's face is furrowed by age. (Reference: Edmunds, Will H. Pointers and Clues to the Subjects of Chinese and Japanese Art).