Here, we will guide you through the numerous pieces of Buddhist art held by Chion-in.
Amida Jōdozu (Illustration of the Pure Land of Amida, Important Cultural Property)
In the center of the illustration is Amida, flanked by his attendants Kannon and Seishi, all standing atop a lotus blossoms. Also, in the front part of the illustration there are nine people who were reborn in the Pure Land atop a lotus dais in a lotus pond, a mystical bird on the edge of the pond, and various Buddhas and bodhisattvas in all directions. This illustration vividly illustrates the Pure Land of Amida. The intricate depiction and the masterful brushwork are typical of the Southern Sung Chinese style and this work can be said to be a splendid example of Chinese Buddhist art.
Kangyō Mandara (Kangyō Mandala, Important Cultural Property)
Kamakura Period (1192-1333), Silk
The complete title of this work is actually Kangyō Hensōzu (The Illustrated Meditation on the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra) and is a type of illustration of Amida’s Pure Land. Because this mandala (illustration of the Buddhist cosmos) is inspired by the one created at the Taimadera temple in the 8th century, it is also called the Taima Mandala. This mandala, which focuses on Amida, Kannon, and Seishi, is an illustration of the world depicted in the Kanmuryōjukyō (The Meditation of the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra), one of Jōdo Shū’s core scriptures.
Seishi Bosatsu Zazō
(Statue of Seishi Bosatsu in a Seated Posture, Important Cultural Property)
Hōnen was very intelligent from his childhood and it was said that his original form was that of Seishi Bosatsu, the bodhisattva of wisdom. After Hōnen died, his top disciple Genchi constructed a mausoleum and meditation hall (the present-day Seishidō), and an image of Hōnen was placed in the hall. Later, when the present-day Mieidō (hall which houses the image of Hōnen) was constructed, the image of Hōnen was moved there, and was replaced with this statue. This image of Seishi seated in the full lotus position is unusual, and we have some idea of when this statue was created. This statue is a valuable example of the characteristics of the style of the era following Unkei (?-1223, a famous creator of Buddhist statutes).
Oshidashi Amida Sanzonzō (Pushed-Out Image of the Amida Trinity)
An oshidashibutsu (pushed out image of the Buddha) is hammered out from a thin copper form and is overlaid with gilding. This is one of the two that remain at Chion-in, and this one depicts Amida atop a lotus blossom attended by Kannon and Seishi.
According to documents from the late Edo Period (1600-1868), this image originally came from the Tōshōdaiji temple in Nara, and it is an artifact of early Amida worship in Japan.
Botanzu (Illustration of Peonies, Important Cultural Property)
Copper tablets colored with gold dust are filled with pictures of colorful peonies, almost to the point of overflowing. They appear to be drawn delicately and realistically, but the creativity of the entire work is conspicuous. This work is thought to be from early Yuan China (1271-1368).