Japan, Kamakura period / The Three Sacred Shrines at Kumano: Kumano Mandala / c. 1300Japan, Kamakura period
The Three Sacred Shrines at Kumano: Kumano Mandala
c. 1300

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: Japan
Creator Active Place: Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Japan, Kamakura period
Title: The Three Sacred Shrines at Kumano: Kumano Mandala
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1280
Creation End Date: 1320
Creation Date: c. 1300
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions: Image: 134cm x 62cm, Overall: 217.2cm x 80cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1953.16
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Rights: http://www.clemusart.com/museum/disclaim2.html
Context: Well before Buddhism arrived in Japan from Korea in the sixth century, the people of these islands already possessed a religious belief system. They envisioned everything in the natural world, including themselves, as beholding to higher powers or kami who resided in the local landscape. These animistic spirits dwelled in particularly beautiful, rugged areas often difficult of access but uncommonly powerful in their display of the forces of nature that shaped the land. The meeting of ocean and land, deep valley recesses, or tall peaks in remote mountain ranges where pure cold water flowed?such sites were recognized by the Japanese as extraordinary. They signaled the presence of a kami, and the recognition of that spirit through ritual, pilgrimage, and the building of monuments or imagery ensued. After the ninth century, increasingly elaborate visual aids were made to identify and explain the local deities, a response to Buddhist practices that were then gaining popularity quickly in Japan. Indeed the rapid acceptance and dynamic spread of Buddhism in Japan fostered Shinto's development, and the two faiths joined forces so that by the time this painting was done the two religions had reached an easy accommodation. Shinto kami were given counterparts in the Buddhist pantheon of deities, and both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temple compounds invariably included a building dedicated to the worship of the other faith. This painting provides a bird's-eye view of the Kumano shrine complex set deep in the mountains of the Kii peninsula south of Nara in Wakayama Prefecture. Nestled in these lush spring mountains near the sacred Nachi waterfall (upper right) are the three principal shrine compounds (actually several miles apart), to which pilgrims travel on foot or by boat on the nearby rivers. Groups of worshipers appear within these walled compounds, facing the individual shrines in which a hidden Shinto deity resides. Above the shrines, the anonymous painter has provided an image of that kami's Buddhist counterpart. Thus the entire painting becomes a map of this special landscape as well as a diagram (mandala) illustrating the religious significance of the shrine's various deities. In conception and in execution it stands as one of the finest surviving examplesof traditional Japanese-style painting in Shinto art. Known as yamato-e, this style featured colorful pigments, dramatic compositions, and indigenous rather than foreign (Chinese or Korean) subjects. M.R.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1953.16
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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