Japan, Heian Period (794-1185)
black lacquer over a wood core with hemp cloth covering, gold paint, cut gold leaf, ink, mineral pigments, and metalwork
Overall - h:160.00 cm (h:62 15/16 inches)
Painted surface - h:100.50 w:39.00 cm (h:39 9/16 w:15 5/16 inches)
Buddhists used tabernacles to house sculpted icons or-more rarely, as in this case-to contain multiple
sutra scrolls. This elaborate tabernacle is one of two known examples of its type in Japanese art and
served as an exceptionally fine aristocratic benefaction commissioned to gain religious merit in uncertain times. Much like Buddha of the Western Paradise nearby, this tabernacle is constructed of multiple parts covered with hemp and coated with layers of lacquer to give the impression of a largely unified surface. The level of detail-tiny metal panel hinges designed like a Buddhist ritual implement-and the quality of painting testify both to faith and to the fear of annihilation.