Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala, Nd
Ink, colors, and gold leaf on paper, mounted as hanging scroll
Purchase, Pratt Fund and Betsy Mudge Wilson, class of 1956, Memorial Fund
Period: Edo period, 16th - early 17th c
Dimensions: Overall (Open): 79 1/8 × 68 7/8 in. (201 × 175 cm)
Image: 59 1/16 × 59 7/16 in. (150 × 151 cm)
Published References v
Watsky, Andrew M. Location "Locating China in the Arts of the Sixteenth-Century Japan," (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), p. 89, repr.;
Mundy, James, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center: Vassar College The History and Collection (New York: Prestel Publishing, 2007), p. 60, p. 61 repr.;
Proser, Adrianna, Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art (New York: Asia Society, 2010), p. 153, fig. 72, repr.;
Lucic, Karen, Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage, Practice (Poughkeepsie, New York: FLLAC, 2015), p. 62, repr.
Exhibition History v
New york, NY, Asia Society and Museum, "Buddhist Pilgrimage and Asian Art," March 16-June 20, 2010;
Poughkeepsie, NY, FLLAC, "Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage, Practice," April 23-June 28, 2015
This anonymous painting depicts the sacred precincts of Nachi, a major site of syncretic Shinto and Buddhist worship in rural Japan on the island of Honshu. As part of the Nachi religious establishment’s proselytizing and fundraising efforts, it was used by monks to narrate the countless factual and apocryphal tales associated with this sacred place. The painting is full of wonderfully expressive vignettes of the devotional activities that took place at Nachi over the centuries. The magnificent waterfall at Nachi, for example, which dominates the right of the painting, was considered the manifestation of a deity; in this painting, as is characteristic of the type, the renowned twelfth-century monk Mongaku is shown being rescued by two child-deities (Kongara Doji and Seitaka Doji)—so devoted was Mongaku to ascetic practice and worship under the sacred torrent, the legend goes, he almost perished. In the lower right of the painting, a small sailboat departs on a one-way trip to the mythical paradise Fudarakusen, its sail inscribed with an invocation of faith (“Hail to Amida Buddha”). This well-known practice involved worshippers of unshakable belief who willingly left behind the mundane world to seek the promise of the next, a practice that till the eighteenth century had many advocates. Among the recognizable sights and buildings of Nachi, numerous people of different social strata — war- riors, aristocrats, monks, and commoners—engage in various activities. Altogether, approximately thirty Nachi pilgrimage paintings of this period are known, all but two in Japan, primarily in temples and shrines.