|Kumano mandara 熊野曼荼羅|
|KEY WORD : art history / iconography|
|Devotional paintings of the three shrines of Kumano, Kumano Sanzan 熊野三山, which are called Honguu 本宮 (Kumano nimasu Jinja 熊野座神社); Shinguu 新宮 (Kumano hayatama Jinja 熊野速玉神社); and Nachi 那智 (Kumano fusumi Jinja 熊野夫須美神社) and are located at the southern tip of Wakayama prefecture. The first record of a painting of Kumano appears in a diary entry of the Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽 (reigned 1183-98) GOTOBAINKI 後鳥羽院記 for the year 1214 which refers to a work showing the Shrines and their deities (which are there called *mishoutai 御正体). Surviving paintings date from the Kamakura through to the Edo periods and are in two groups. The first are *miya mandara 宮曼荼羅 showing the shrines and the landscape, and sometimes including details of the landscape all the way to *Yoshino 吉野. The second group are the *songyou mandara 尊形曼荼羅 which show the deities. Motifs from Esoteric Buddhism, such as the central lotus of the *Taizoukai mandara 胎蔵界曼荼羅 occur in Kumano mandara. Along with Kasuga 春日 and Sannou 山王, Kumano was artistically one of the three most important Shinto/Buddhist sites. Another feature of kumano mandara is its use of folk or *suijaku 垂迹 art. This arose out of Kumano's position at the forefront of efforts to gain popular support for religious sites. To this end the Shrines of Kumano were advertised by nuns, called kumano bikuni 熊野比丘尼, based at the shrine who travelled the whole country collecting funds for projects and repairs. By the late Heian period Kumano was being popularized by pilgrimage organizers and in the Muromachi period this proselytizing gave rise to the creation of some of the most striking paintings of Kumano. These are the pilgrimage paintings *sankei mandara 参詣曼荼羅 which were used to explain the site and tell stories about it. One type of kumano sankei mandara was the Kanshin jikkai e-zu 観心十界絵図 (also known as Kumano kanshin mandara 熊野観心曼荼羅). This was used for *etoki 絵解 (explanatory paintings) of the ten realms in which we are reborn according to Buddhist theology, and which represent the various states of human existence, such as Rage or Hunger. With sun and moon to either side of a central mountain, the composition follows the form of standard pilgrimage paintings. However it also has an arched path on which people are shown walking from the east, where they appear as babies, or to the west where they have reached old age. The painting also shows the ten realms, as well as *Amida 阿弥陀, *Kannon 観音, and *Seishi 勢至, and the character for heart kokoro 心. The ten realms were roughly paralleled in shugendou 修験道 practices. Several of the best known and most beautiful of the paintings of the Kumano cult fall outside standard categories of Shinto painting, including one of the finest Japanese landscape paintings, the hanging scroll of the Nachi waterfall now in the Nezu 根津 museum. According to the CHOUSHUUKI 長秋記 by 1134 the Buddhist identities *honjibutsu 本地仏 of the Shinto deities *kami 神 were identified as Amida for Honguu (Ketsu no miko kami 家都の御子神), *Yakushi 薬師 for Shinguu (Hayatama no kami 速玉の神), and *Senju Kannon 千手観音 for Nachi (Fusumi 夫須美 or Musubi no kami 結びの神) Along with these three major deities (Kumano Sansho Gongen 熊野三所権現), there were also many lesser ones, of which nine were added to the main three to make a group of twelve called the Kumano Juunisha Gongen 熊野十二社権現. These included the Wakamiya 若宮 Nyakuichi ouji 若一王子, identified with *Juuichimen Kannon 十一面観音. Another important deity not part of this group was Hirou Gongen 飛滝権現 (also read Hiryuu Gongen) a manifestation of the Nachi waterfall. These twelve deities are the most likely to appear in paintings. It is clear from archaeological discoveries made in sutra mounds kyouzuka 経塚 that as early as the Nara period, Kumano was the site of Lotus Sutra HOKEKYOU 法華経 devotion and was seen as the paradise of Kannon *Fudarakusen 補陀落山. In the Heian period the pilgrimage to Kumano became important to all classes of people, including the Imperial family and nobility as well as the sick and the poor: in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods this was the most popular site in Japan. From the shore near Shinguu pilgrims sailed to Kannon's paradise in small unsteerable boats. It was also believed that those who committed suicide at Kumano would go directly to the paradise of Amida, Gokuraku 極楽. Because Kumano was at one end of the Oomine 大峰 mountain range, the central site of shugendou ascetic practice (the other extreme being Yoshino) it exercised considerable power over the surrounding region, and its warrior monks often played a part in political disputes. Although today the shrines appear entirely Shinto with the exception of Nachi, where Fudarakusenji 補陀落山寺 still exists,) this purity is the artificial result of the separation of Shinto and Buddhism shinbutsu bunri 神仏分離 and the banning of shugendou in the early Meiji period.|
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