“Universal Gateway,” Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra

Title: “Universal Gateway,” Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra
Location: New York, NY United StatesCulture: Japan
Medium: Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper
Dimension: Overall with mounting: 9 11/16 in. × 30 ft. 8 1/16 in. (24.6 × 934.9 cm)
Respiratory: The Metropolitan Museum 

Description: Painted in 1257 by an anonymous artist, the painting was modeled after a Chinese book that was printed in 1208. Many aspects of the paintings in all four panels take after Chinese style and Buddhism. Buddhism is important to many Chinese, and the artist of this painting modeled it after a Chinese book but added Japanese elements to the painting. The artist incorporated the traditional Japanese painting style yamato-e, making it different from the original. Buddhism is all over China, and the yellow figure with black hair in the center is Buddha, with many people surrounding him. The setting of the painting looks like it takes place in heaven since clouds are present. People surrounding him, which depicts it seems like people are praying and paying their respects to Buddha. There were three colors used repeatedly in the four paintings; green, red, and blue. The green seems to represent land and blue represents water. In two of the paintings, there seems to be flooding with housing being covered, hinting at natural disasters. Relating it back to the first image, it could try and send a message that if the normal citizens did not pray and listen to Buddha then natural disasters might strike and lives will be ruined, wars will be fought. 

In class during our discussion, we talked about the importance of colors, and how the colors are used. Certain colors could have symbolic meanings behind them, such as red. Red in many Asian cultures is considered a lucky color, but in this case, it may be used to represent how sacred the society is and power in Asian culture.  Especially in the first image, with many of the gods around Buddha wearing red. It could represent the level of power they hold.

Reference: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/44849?pos=1

Author: Jasmine Li

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