Shotoku Taishi and His Sons

Shotoku Taishi and His Sons


Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk

Image: 121.9 x 57.5 cm (48 x 22 5/8 in.); Overall: 207.3 x 83.2 cm (81 5/8 x 32 3/4 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Collection 1964.278



Shotoku Taishi (about 574-622), prince regent, was attributed with numerous acts of faith in his
lifetime, actions often related to the transmission of Buddhism to Japan. The many tales of Prince
Shotoku’s religiosity make it difficult to confirm the scene being depicted here. This might show a
moment when Prince Shotoku, aged 16, dropped to his knees in prayer during a battle between his
clan, the Soga, and another clan. This might also relate to another time in Shotoku’s life when, again
at the age of 16, Shotoku prayed day and night, dressed in full court attire and holding a longhandled
incense burner, for the recovery of his sick father Emperor Youmei (reigned 585-87). At his miraculous recovery, the emperor converted to Buddhism.

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