Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”). LOTUS SUTRA SCROLL.
Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”).
Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”).
Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”).
Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”).

Manuscript sutra scroll on indigo-dyed paper of the “Gokito-kyo Hokkekyo” (“The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra”).

Fine frontispiece at beginning & “afterpiece” scene at end. Scroll (210 x 9560 mm.), written in ink, color, gold, & silver on indigo-dyed paper. [Japan]: at end (in trans.): “copied on 28th April 1782 by [name impossible to determine as the characters can be read in multiple ways].”

This devotional scroll contains a selection of texts — known as the Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra — taken from the much larger Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential scriptures of the Mahayana Buddhism. It is highly regarded in a number of Asian countries, including China, Korea, and Japan, where it has been traditionally practiced. The Gokito-kyo Lotus Sutra was produced by the Kempon Hokke-shu branch of Nichiren Buddhism, which was based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese monk Nichiren.

The brushwork throughout this scroll is of a very high and refined level. At the beginning, our fine scroll has fine silk “endpapers” on the outer side employing gold thread to depict four of the Bagua (the Eight Trigrams), representing the fundamental principles of reality and other motifs. On the inside of the endpaper is a magnificent scene in dark green and rich gold and silver depicting a dreamy landscape and sea with a crane and turtle. The gold has been applied in many layers and using many techniques. The calligrapher has also brushed the text by hand in silver paint (a pigment created by mixing crushed silver leaf with animal-fat glue).

This is followed by an illustration, very rare in sutras, of thirty portraits of gods and Buddhist practitioners, framed on each side by protective gods and a pair of lions. All are finely depicted in gold and each has red lips and sits in front of a bamboo screen.

For the rest of the scroll, including the above scene, the text is framed above and below by decorative and varied patterns in rich gold. A full line of text contains 14-16 characters. The text is finely written in a calligraphic hand in gold.

At the end, we learn about the traditional transmission of this text, including ownership and scribes, whose first names are given: there is a four-column statement of when this scroll was copied and by whom. The first copy was made in 1537, using the source scroll owned by the chief of Echigo province. In 1657, it was copied again. And in 1714, it was copied and ours is a copy of that scroll. We learn that the best way to produce such a scroll is to be “fast, sit still, be calm, and concentrate.”

At the end, we find a remarkable and long (167 x 490 mm.) scene, painted in blue, gold, and red, of various Buddhist divinities and devotees with a seated Buddha. A ray of light extends from Buddha’s forehead and illumines the vast assembly, who have gathered to hear his teaching. Various episodes from the scroll and parables are depicted.

The reverse or outer side of the scroll is equally finely painted with various seasonal nature scenes framed at top and bottom with rich gold and silver speckled borders.

The dark blue paper is suggestive of precious lapis lazuli. The use of gold paint to write the texts of the sutra is considered an act of reverence toward the Buddha’s teachings and can also be seen as a representation of the shining bright body of the Buddha himself.

The attached cord, used to tie the sutra together, consists of woven persimmon and gold threads. At the end are three tassels with persimmon and gold threads. The cord and tassels are attached to the scroll with a finely decorated metal lotus flower clasp. The roller is made of clear crystal, it ends covered by metal caps with lotus flower and vine patterns.

In fine and fresh condition. The scroll is preserved in a corded silk damask wrapper within a fine lacquer box decorated with two family crests (the first with eight wisteria flowers framing a flower in the center; the second with a Konoe peony) in gold on the upper cover and attached tassels. There is some worming in the later part of the scroll but it is not offensive.

Price: $55,000.00

Item ID: 6656

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