Special opening of Chiko Mandala Itae Panel
(the color illustration of Chiko Mandala painted on a board) In the late 12th century
The color illustration painted on a board, Mounted on a frame,
217.0cm in height, 195.0cm in width
Chiko Mandala is an iconography that depicts Amida Buddha's Pure Land. This mandala used to be possessed by Chiko Hosshi, a scholar of the Three Treatises studies, and belonged to the Gangoji temple Sanron sect (one of the six major temples in Nanto) in the Tenpyo Era.
“Nihon Jurai Gokuraku-ki” (traveling to the Buddha’s Pure Land) written by Yoshishige Yasutane in 984 is the story about Chiko and Raiko who traveled to the Buddha's Pure Land in their dreams and achieved enlightenment. The place where Chiko Hosshi lived is still called Gokuraku-bo, which means “paradise,” because he displayed the picture of the Buddha's Pure Land in his living quarters. From the latter half of the Heian Era, the 100-day prayer to Buddha was actively held in Nanto. This practice encouraged people to chant Nenbutsu for a hundred days, for sending one deceased person to the Buddha's Pure Land. With this movement, Nanto became the center of the faith of Amida Buddha's Pure Land, and it was referred to as “Ojo Gokuraku-in”, the place for peaceful death.
The original picture was “the Amitabha Jodo Henso-zu”, describing the scenery of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land that was popular in China during the Tang dynasty. The two priests sitting on the both ends of the bridge over the pond described in this mandala are supposed to be Chiko and Raiko. There is an interpretation that these two priests were added based on the above mentioned story. The details that differ from the later Chiko Mandala diagram have drawn attention. In the Jodo sect, the Chiko Mandala was originally one of the three major mandalas of the sect, including Chiko at Gangoji, Honyo Chujo-hime at Taima-dera and Seikai at Chosho-ji temple. They have been transcribed into many copies.
The digital infrared photography analysis clearly captured draft lines drawn under coloring. The draft lines depicting delicate ancient patterns and the musical instruments that bodhisattvas are holding can be clearly recognized. Chuson and various bodhisattvas were depicted with powerful drawing lines. You can see the taste of the arts in the Kamakura Era, in the expression, such as plump cheek lines, big-arched eyebrows, and intelligent sharp eyes.
Set in the land of beginnings with a history spanning 1,300 years,
Gangoji is a National Treasure and World Heritage Site of Nara.