Jun 26, 2014

The Parinirvana of the Buddha

The Parinirvana of the Buddha

c. 1710s

Color woodblock print

Sheet: 54 x 27.8 cm (21 1/4 x 10 15/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1141



This print records a religious rather than secular event, depicting the transition of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni from mortal to eternal being. On a cloudy night under a full moon, the Buddha lies on a platform on his right side with his right hand behind his head. His followers surround him in various states of grief, curiosity, or calm acceptance. An old woman at the Buddha’s feet and other lay believers are present, along with a host of Buddhist deities. The Buddha’s mother, two attendants, and a monk appear at the upper right. The multitude of animals acknowledges that the Buddha’s law applies to all living creatures. Note that various rectangular cartouches identify the followers. This rare image is the earliest hand-colored print in the museum collection. It was hand-colored in yellow and red (tan), and in many instances, the coloring does not follow the outlines of the key block. All printed versions of this subject are based on earlier paintings; the earliest woodcut of this event dates to 1402.

See also
Japanese Art
Japanese Art
Type of artwork: 

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