nika byakudou-zu  二河白道図
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also read niga byakudou-zu. Lit. picture of Two Rivers and the White Path. Inspired by a parable taught by the founder of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, Shandao 善導 (Jp:*Zendou 善導; 613-81), in his commentary on Guanwuliangshoujingsu (Jp: KANMURYOUJUKYOUSHO 観無量寿経疏). The bottom of the painting shows this world, or this shore, shigan 此岸, and the top *Amida's 阿弥陀 Western Paradise gokuraku 極楽, or Pure Land joudo 浄土, located on the far shore, higan 彼岸. Connecting the two is the narrow white path running between the River of Fire (hatred) on the south and the River of Water (greed) on the north over which the believer must carefully travel to attain rebirth in the Pure Land. In order to encourage believers to strive for salvation, many works of nika byakudou-zu were produced during the Kamakura period. Well-known examples include those in Koumyouji 光明寺, Kyoto, and the Kousetsu 香雪 Art Museum, Hyougo prefecture.


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