Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The Buddhist karmic cycle allows humans to generate merit over the course of their mortal lives, ultimately leading to enlightenment and rebirth in a higher spiritual realm. Written by those involved in the creation of the sculpture, the prayers shown here are devotional vows to observe the Buddhist way. The prayer at top left is signed by a nun named Kenkai. At top right, the three prayers written on a single piece of paper in three different hands are signed by nuns named Shōgan, Shunchi, and Kangyō. The prayers written on the sheet mounted at the bottom are dated to the ninth day of the fifth month of the year 1292.

Translation of Kenkai’s prayer (top left):

We take refuge in the Honorable Śākyamuni.

Our wish for our future lives is that

whether reborn in good or evil places,

we will never forget our aspiration to achieve Bodhi-wisdom.

Nun Kenkai

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Four Sheets of Paper inscribed with Religious Texts, Poems, Charms [mounted on a board]
Work Type
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Ink on paper
H. 30.5 x W. 40.6 cm (12 x 16 in.)
[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
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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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

Exhibition History

Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/25/2019 - 08/11/2019

Related Works

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