Folded book with illustrated frontispiece; gold and silver on mulberry paper
Book: 20.6 x 43.7 cm (8 1/8 x 17 3/16 in.); Each page: 20.7 x 11 cm (8 1/8 x 4 5/16 in.)
The Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 1994.25
The pristine condition of this manuscript indicates that it was rarely used after its creation, revealing that the act of making a manuscript rather than reading it was the main religious goal.
This illuminated manuscript presents one part of the multivolume sacred text titled Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) sutra. Both the script and the image are rendered in gold ink on the smooth surface of the dark blue, indigo-dyed mulberry paper. This portion of the text, which reads from right to left, describes the encounter of the Buddha of the Future (Maitreya) and the young pilgrim Sudhana. The Buddha gives his words of wisdom to Sudhana, who asks questions about the path toward spiritual awakening.
Mixed with ink and glue, the gold has a brilliance that strikingly reflects Sudhana’s ardent quest for understanding the way to reach enlightenment.
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