SUTRA OF Adhyardhasatikaprajnaparamitasutra / Prajnaparamitanayasatapancasatika. [Perfection of Wisdom in 150 Verses].

Beautifully printed woodblock scroll, entitled in Japanese: Dairaku kongo fukuu shinjitsu sammayakyo / Hannya haramitta rishubon, the text trans. into Chinese, with commentary by Amoghavajra (Ch: Bukong; J: Fuku). Chinese & large Siddham characters. Scroll (280 x 5750 mm.), consisting of nine joined printed sheets of deluxe fine smooth paper (4950 mm.), with endpapers at front & back, decorative borders with gold & silver flakes on top (25 mm.) & bottom (30 mm.) throughout the printed text, each border ruled in silver, silk brocade endpapers, with decorative gold & silver landscape on inside of front endpaper, wooden roller, gold paper label on outside of beginning of scroll reading: “Hannya haramitta rishubon [=] rishukyo.” [Japan: early Kamakura era (after 1185)].

A beautifully printed and decorated woodblock scroll of the early Kamakura period with dark impressions of the carved characters. Most unusually, our scroll is not printed on the typical paper of the period but on fine smooth pale brown paper. Indeed, this is the first time we have encountered an early sutra printed on fine paper.

The text of our scroll — Perfection of Wisdom in 150 Verses (Taisho 243) — was translated in ca. 771 by Amoghavajra (705-74), a Buddhist émigré to China who played a major role in the introduction and translation of seminal Buddhist texts belonging to the esoteric tradition known in Japan as mikkyo. Amoghavajra’s translation of the text — known in Japanese as Rishukyo — occupies today a central position in the Japanese Shingon sect and takes an integral part in its daily worship and in the training of its priests. We believe this is the first printing of this important text in Japan.

Amoghavajra “made an excursion to India and Sri Lanka with the permission of the Tang-dynasty emperor and returned in 746 with new Buddhist texts, many of them esoteric scriptures…[He] was one of the most prolific translators and writers in the history of Chinese Buddhism.”–Buswell & Lopez, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 36.

“This is the text generally referred to in the Shingon tradition when the Rishukyo is mentioned, since it is this text which has come to form an integral part of the philosophy and practice of the Japanese Shingo-shu. The immediate reasons for this are readily apparent: it is short enough to be recited in its entirety during ceremonies, but yet has sufficient philosophical weight to stimulate creative thinking. Ritually, it was the first version of the Sutra to achieve completeness, in the sense that it forms a co-ordinated cycle of ritual and symbolic meanings. Further — and perhaps most importantly — the Tantric additions to the text have been integrated so well that the Prajnaparamita and Tantra aspects exist harmoniously side by side.”–Ian Astley, The Rishukyo: A Translation and Commentary… (PhD thesis, October 1987), available online, p. 15.

The scroll begins with a beautiful abstract landscape on the front endpaper composed of gold, silver, & copper pigments. This is followed by a manuscript text of chants. The printed section of the scroll has been richly and darkly printed throughout in Chinese characters with large and handsome Siddham characters following each chapter. Unusually, our scroll has decorative borders on top and bottom consisting of gold and silver flakes.

In fine and fresh condition, preserved in a modern wooden box. A few minor wormholes, carefully repaired.

❧ Buswell & Lopez, op. cit, pp. 17, 36, & 657.

Price: $57,500.00

Item ID: 7878

See all items in Buddhism, Japan, Japanese, Religion
See all items by