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Historical Collection: Speaking to the Future Series Reproductions in the Tokyo National Museum Collection: The Heike Nokyo Sutras

Historical Collection: Speaking to the Future Series Reproductions in the Tokyo National Museum Collection: The Heike Nokyo Sutras / Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 16   October 19, 2010 (Tue) - November 28, 2010 (Sun)

 Image of "Reproduction of Heike Nokyo Sutra, Reproduced by Tanaka Shinbi, Taisho Period, 20th century (Original: Owned by Itsukushima Shrine, Heian period, dated 1164, National Treasure)" 
Reproduction of Heike Nokyo Sutra, Reproduced by Tanaka Shinbi, Taisho Period, 20th century (Original: Owned by Itsukushima Shrine, Heian period, dated 1164, National Treasure)

Since the Tokyo National Museum was established in 1872, it has produced and collected a variety of illustrative and other reproductions to broaden its range of exhibits and further academic research. This exhibition focuses on one example of these reproductions: the Heike Nokyo sutra scrolls.

The original Heike Nokyo sutras (National Treasure, preserved by Itsukushima Shrine) were donated to Itsukushima Shrine in 1164 by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori (1118-81). The frontispieces, endpapers and both sides of the scroll are abundantly decorated with pictorial script and illustrations in gold and silver. The sutra texts themselves are inscribed in a combination of gold, silver, verdigris and indigo, and even the scroll fittings and label exhibit great attention to detail. These decorated sutras are peerless in their luxury.

The embellishments on the Heike Nokyo sutra scrolls were featured in the Illustrated Catalogue of Itsukushima Shrine Treasures, published in 1842. In 1882, the sutras were displayed in Tokyo at a national painting exposition, providing the opportunity for their official reproduction at the museum. Works from this time comprise the museum's earliest collection of Heike Nokyo reproductions (A-6917). Additional reproductions by Tanaka Shinbi (B-2406), commissioned by Itsukushima Shrine with the assistance of Masuda Donno (1848-1938) and others, faithfully communicate the beauty of the original works. These reproductions provide a glimpse into the exquisitely ornate world of the Heike Nokyo sutras.

 Major works in this exhibition

* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Reproduction of Heike Nokyo Sutra, Reproduced by Tanaka Shinbi, Taisho Period, 20th century (Original: Owned by Itsukushima Shrine, Heian period, dated 1164, National Treasure)
Reproduction of Heike Nokyo Sutra, Reproduced by Chomei Anshun and others, 1882-84 (Original: Owned by Itsukushima Shrine, Heian period, dated 1164, National Treasure)
Box for Heike Nokyo Sutra (Reproduction), Reproduced supervised by Tanaka Shinbi, Taisho period, 20th century (Original: Owned by Itsukushima Shrine, Heian period, dated 1164, National Treasure)

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