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Gallery Text

The texts sealed inside the sculpture of Prince Shōtoku indicate that the group of people who placed them there did not adhere rigidly to a single sectarian stream of Buddhist practices, but put their faith in a variety of devotional beliefs and merit-making activities. The printed text mounted at the top of this board is an invocation against epidemic diseases. The manuscript sheet at bottom right describes a meditation centered on visualization of the monk-deity Jizō. Patterns of staining on the two sheets of paper suggest that the smaller visualization text may have been rolled inside the larger printed text before being placed inside the sculpture.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
2019.122.10
Title
Four Sheets of Paper inscribed with Religious Texts, Poems, Charms [mounted on a board]
Classification
Calligraphy
Work Type
calligraphy
Date
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Period
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Culture
Japanese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/96652

Physical Descriptions

Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
H. 30.5 x W. 40.6 cm (12 x 16 in.)

Provenance

Recorded Ownership History
[Yamanaka Shoji Co., Ltd, Awata Kyoto (1936)], sold; to Ellery Sedgwick, Beverly, MA, (1936-1960), passed; to his wife, Marjorie Russell, Beverly, MA (1960-1971), inherited; by Ellery Sedgwick, Jr., Gates Mills, Ohio, (1971-1991), inherited; by Walter Sedgwick, Woodside, CA, (1991-2019), partial and promised gift; to the Harvard Art Museums.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial and promised gift of Walter C. Sedgwick in memory of Ellery Sedgwick Sr. and Ellery Sedgwick Jr.
Object Number
2019.122.10
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Permissions

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Publication History

  • John M. Rosenfield, The Sedgwick Statue of the Infant Shotoku Taishi, Archives of Asian Art (1968-1969), Vol. XXII / pp. 56-79
  • Keizaburō Mizuno, ed., Nihon chōkokushi kiso shiryō shūsei (Compendium of the History of Japanese Sculpture), Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2019)
  • Rachel Saunders, “Hābādo Daigaku Bijutsukan shozō Shōtoku Taishi nisai zō ni komerareta imi” (Interpreting the Sculpture of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Zōkei no poetika: Nihon bijutsushi o meguru aratana chihei (The Poetics of Form: New Horizons in Japanese Art History), ed. Sano Midori Festschrift Committee, Seikansha (Tokyo, 2021), pp, 71-86
  • Rachel Saunders, Angela Chang, Penley Knipe, and H. Greg Lin, “Hābādo Bijutsukan shozō Namu Butsu Taishi zō: kyōdō kenkyū to sono seika” (When Art Meets Science: Interdisciplinary Research and Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Hābādo Bijutsukan Namu Butsu Taishi zō no kenkyū, Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2023), pp. 191-235
  • Mika Abé, Yasurō Abé, Kensuke Chikamoto, Rachel Saunders, Ai Seya, and Takayuki Seya, ed., Hābādo Bijutsukan Namu Butsu Taishi zō no kenkyū (The Sculpture of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2023)

Exhibition History

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