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Vimalakirti Scroll Used for a Yuima-e Service at Tônomine Temple

This scroll is divided into three sections—the top register contains small figures of a thunder god, a Buddhist priest, a fox, and a pagoda, and the bottom register depicts two Chinese lion-dogs facing each other. The central section features the large, bearded figure of the Indian sage Vimalakirti, called Yuima in Japanese, a Buddhist layman who lived in India in the sixth century B.C. Having reached the height of spiritual understanding but choosing to remain a layman, he was renowned for his superior insight and wisdom. The male figure directly below Yuima, dressed in court robes, is Fujiwara no Kamatari (A.D. 614–669), a famous Japanese statesman and founder of the aristocratic Fujiwara clan. Flanking Kamatari are his two sons, one a Buddhist priest, seated on the right dressed in monk’s robes, and the other a government official, dressed in court robes like his father. Kamatari served as minister to three empresses and emperors during the Asuka period (538–710). This work, painted seven centuries after Kamatari’s death, was used in a Yuima-e (Assembly for Vimalakirti), a memorial service held annually for Kamatari at the Tônomine temple in Nara, which was built in 678 by Kamatari’s eldest son, Jo-e.


Nakamura Gakuryo, Japan, by 1964.

(Takashi Yanagi Object of Fine Arts, Kyoto);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1982.