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Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Painting: 107 x 46.6 cm (42 1/8 x 18 3/8 in.); Overall with knobs: 192.4 x 66.7 cm (75 3/4 x 26 1/4 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2009.342.2
Shakyamuni is seated cross-legged on the throne with the hand gesture (mudra) of giving instruction.
This triptych is a rare example of Yuan Buddhist painting. It depicts the historic Buddha Shakyamuni flanked by two attending bodhisattvas, Manjushri (the bodhisattva of wisdom, riding a lion) and Samantabhadra (the bodhisattva of universal virtue, riding an elephant). Below them are others seeking enlightenment: two disciples of the Buddha (Ananada and Kasyapa), two non-Chinese people, a boy with topknots, and a female worshiper.
The clouds above and around the divine beings form one scene that illustrates Shakyamuni’s sermon from the Lotus Sutra. This text became an important basis for Buddhist faith throughout East Asia and was central to the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
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