Name/TitleBiography of Prince Shōtoku (painted panels), Tokyo National Museum
About this objectPrince Shōtoku (聖徳太子, 574–622), a champion of the newly introduced religion of Buddhism against the hereditary clans in charge of traditional ritual, was venerated within a century after his death as an incarnation of the historical Buddha, Śakyamuni. Monks told parables about him inspired by the life of the Buddha, and episodes from his life decorated temples and shrines, aiding the spread of popular Buddhism throughout medieval Japan.
This painting shows nearly sixty scenes from his life, identified by inscriptions in cartouches pasted onto the surface. To the viewer's right is the Asuka region, in the centre is Ikaruga Palace, and on the left are Shitennōji (四天王寺), Naniwa ((浪速, Osoka), and China.
The painting was originally on fixed doors in the Hall of Paintings at Hōryūji (法隆寺) [EXH20]. It was later transferred to freestanding screens and then, in recent times, remounted on ten panels.
Subject and Association KeywordsArrivals
Measurements89.2–190.5 cm x 137.2–148.2 cm
Credit LineTokyo National Museum
Object numberEXH22: Japan NT