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140th Anniversary Thematic Exhibitions: Masterpieces of Buddhist Sculpture in the Tokyo National Museum Collection

  • Image of "Standing Bosatsu, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)"

    Standing Bosatsu, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 11
    September 25, 2012 (Tue) - December 2, 2012 (Sun)

    Buddhist sculptures on view at the Tokyo National Museum can be roughly divided into works belonging to the museum collection and works on loan from other owners.

    In the museum collection, there are about 170 Japanese statues dating to the Edo period (1603-1868) or earlier (excluding works in the Horyuji Treasures collection). Since Buddhist, Shinto, and portrait statues are normally housed in temples and shrines as subjects of worship, few of these statues have entered the museum collection. We have, however, been able to enrich our exhibitions by adding loaned sculptures from temples and shrines.

    To celebrate the museum's 140th anniversary, this exhibition features 19 exceptional statues (13 entries) solely from the museum collection. Seventy percent of the sculptures on display were obtained by the museum during the Meiji era (1868-1912), as a result of efforts in collecting during the early days of the museum. Two of the statues were purchased after 1945, one was donated by the artist and poet Mr. Kawabata Ryushi, and three were transferred from the Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs.

    For the protection of cultural heritage, important works are collected by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, which has a larger budget than the museum. When Japan's national museums were affiliates of the agency (before they became independent administrative institutions), works purchased by the agency were allocated (transferred) to the Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara National Museums. This transfer system is no longer active, since now the museums are operated independently from the state. It is also difficult for this museum to purchase masterpieces of sculpture because of the high cost.

    Through our current collections, we aim to convey the appeal of Japanese sculptures by revising our lighting and other exhibition methods, as well as researching and communicating new findings and features.

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Standing Bosatsu (Bodhisattva), Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)
Seated Nikko Bosatsu (Suryaprabha), Formerly owned by Kinrinji and Kozanji, Kyoto, Nara period, 8th century (Important Cultural Property)
Standing Bishamon Ten (Vaisravana), Formerly owned by the Jurin'in, Chusenji, Heian period, ca. 1162 (Important Cultural Property, Gift of Mr. Kawabata Ryushi)
Standing Junishinsho (Twelve Heavenly Generals): Shinshin (Monkey General), Formerly owned by Joruriji temple, Kyoto, Kamakura period, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)
Seated Aizen Myo'o (Ragaraja), Kamakura period, 13th - 14th century (Important Cultural Property)


Related Events

Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibition (Heiseikan) Auditorium  October 13, 2012 (Sat)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_DAY
<Gallery Talks>   Ornamentation of Buddhist Statues
Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 11  October 30, 2012 (Tue)   14:00 - 14:30   RESERVE_DAY