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Painting the Six Kannon

Painting the Six Kannon

(p.183) Chapter Five Painting the Six Kannon
Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan
Sherry D. Fowler
University of Hawai'i Press

A centerpiece of the corpus of extant iconic image sets of Six Kannon painting, of which five originals survive, is the large fourteenth-century set from the Hosomi Museum in Kyoto. Just how unstable the number six can be is demonstrated in the Six Kannon cult by the establishment of the Seven Kannon group, which is a phenomenon where both alternate Kannon types (Fukūkenjaku and Juntei used by Shingon and Tendai respectively) are included in one group. The Kyoto temple called Shichi Kannon’in historically enshrined such an example. Six Kannon joined by one Seishi (Skt. Mahāsthāmaprāpta), commonly misidentified as “Seven Kannon,” were worshipped in the practice of the once popular but now almost unknown Edo-period ritual called Shichiyamachi (Seven nights of waiting). Other paintings of Six Kannon, such as the sixteenth-century set from Kōdaiji that includes paintings of the Six Kannon along with Thirty-three Kannon, served a pivotal role in the transmission and subsequent expansion of the Six Kannon cult.

Keywords:   Hosomi Museum, Six Kannon, Seven Kannon, Shichiyamachi, Seishi, Daigoji, Kōdaiji, Buddhist painting, Ryōsenji, Sho Kannon zuzō

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