Yakushi, the Buddha of Healing is identified by the medicine jar held in the palm of its left hand. It was among the earliest deities brought to Japan from Korea, probably in the seventh century, as a portable gilt bronze image. Here Yakushi is aided, and protected, by twelve heavenly generals, each representative of a month in the year, symbolizing the deity's abundant and timeless powers.
Sometime in the 1960's this work underwent conservation that removed the upper and lower roller bar portions of the mounting so that the painting could be placed in a frame. This was done out of concern for the deterioration of the silk ground that was cracking due to the rolling and unrolling of the painting.
We have since learned, however, that the continued exposure of silk and mineral pigments to air in fact accelerates structural as well as surface damage. As a result the painting was converted back to the traditional hanging scroll format following an intense conservation treatment which included the removal of old silk patches and their replacement with new ones whose thickness and texture matches the original silk more closely. This reduces the stress that occurs naturally between old and new silk sections during the process of rolling and unrolling the hanging scroll.