Suiten kyo (Sutra of Varuna, Deity of the Waters)Artist(s)JapaneseArtist NationalityJapanese (culture or style)Object Creation Datecirca 1300-1335Medium & Supporthandscroll, ink and color on paperDimensions
11 1/4 in x 81 1/8 in (28.6 cm x 206.1 cm)Subject matter
In esoteric Buddhism and other Buddhist sects, chanting sutras is an important part of spiritual practice. The central deity depicted in this sutra is Suiten, the god of waters known in Hindu as Varuna. In Japan, Suiten was associated not only with the sea, but also with fishermen and a variety of mythical water creatures, including dragons and snakes. Here, Suiten is astride a giant water dragon. The fierce deity on the far left clasps a wheel of dharma (associated with the law but also with the concept of fate) and a sword for vanquishing evil. He also holds a brush and scroll, characteristic of Komokuten, one of the Mantra Kings in esoteric Buddhism, known for their wisdom and responsibility. Komokuten represents limitless vision and is commonly depicted with nagas, or serpents like the ones writhing outwards from his hair.Physical Description
This is a long horizontal scroll with several calligraphic inscriptions on the right portion of the paper. On the left are 3 figural scenes. The one closest to the writing shows a male figure wearing a large headdress seated in the lotus position within a circle. Next there is a figure with four arms who stands on the back of a dragon. Two people stand on either side- one a short blue-skinned man who holds a bowl and the other a smaller figure who holds a brush and paper. The third scene shows a male figure, seated in the lotus position, who holds a sword, a wheel, a brush and paper in his four hands.Primary Object Classification Painting Primary Object TypehandscrollCollection AreaAsianRights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image
for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.