The boughs of wisteria appearing in the background symbolize the figure's status as a Fujiwara family member.
This portrait of Fujiwara no Muchimaro (680–737), a grandson of Fujiwara no Kamatari (614–669), includes an image of Buddha Dainichi Nyorai above his head. By situating the image of Dainichi there, this painting would seem to assert that Muchimaro is an avatar of Dainichi. In the same way that kami could be identified with Buddhist counterparts, powerful humans could also be seen as manifestations of Buddhist deities. A similar painting is at Eizanji in Nara, of which Muchimaro is known as the founder. It was once a branch temple of Kōfukuji, the Fujiwara family temple.
The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email email@example.com.