Medicine Master Buddha and the Twelve Divine Generals

Medicine Master Buddha and the Twelve Divine Generals

薬師如来及び十二神将像

1200s

Hanging scroll painting; ink, color, gold, and silver on silk

Image: 151.2 x 84.1 cm (59 1/2 x 33 1/8 in.); Overall: 261 x 106.6 cm (102 3/4 x 41 15/16 in.); with knobs: 261 x 113.3 cm (102 3/4 x 44 5/8 in.)

Edward L. Whittemore Fund 1938.422

Location

Did you know?

Each of the Divine Generals has an identifying zodiac animal in his hair or headdress.

Description

From the 700s, people in Japan began praying to the Medicine Master Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai) for longevity. Yakushi is at the center of this image, flanked by the bodhisattvas of the sun and moon, Nikkō and Gakkō. The Twelve Divine Generals, a group of protective deities, surround him. Yakushi sits in a meditative pose with his right hand in a gesture bestowing fearlessness while his left hand holds a medicine jar. In the upper part of the painting, rectangles simulating decorative paper inscription slips contain excerpts from a sacred text about Yakushi, in which he asks that sick people who speak his name should become well and that all who hear his name might have their purity restored.

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