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Asian Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Mandala of the Sacred Name of the Kasuga Deities

15th century

Hanging scroll: ink, color, and gold on silk

without mounting: 27 11/16 × 7 13/16 in. (70.4 × 19.8 cm)
with mounting: 53 × 13 1/4 in. (134.6 × 33.7 cm)
with rollers: 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm)
Purchased with a gift from Peggy and Richard M. Danziger, LL.B.1963
The Buddhist mandala, a systematic diagram of cosmic deities, was adapted by the native Japanese Shinto religion to interpret their own pictorial concepts. This unusual mandala is a “name scroll,” in which the characters of name for the deities are the central image. Here, the seven large gold characters read, “In homage to the great and radiant deities of the Kasuga Shrine” (Namu Kasuga Dai Myoujin), and appear to form an image of a deity standing on a lotus pedestal, covered by a jeweled canopy, and against a mountain backdrop. Name scrolls such as this were often used as iconic images in rituals. They provide a path to understanding the sophisticated eclecticism of Japanese religious art during the medieval period.
Not on view
Muromachi period (1336–1573)

Private collection Japan; Kokon, Oriental Fine Arts, New York


Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 144, 375, pl. 130.

Sadako Ohki, “Embodying Power in Japanese Calligraphy,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 122–27, ill. frontispiece, ill.

Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 42.

Yasaburo Shimonaka, ed., Shinto daijiten, 3 vols. (Kyoto: Rinsen Shoten, 1969).

Susan Tyler, The Cult of Kasuga Seen through Its Art (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1992).

Kasuga Taisha meihoten, exh. cat. (Nara, Japan: Nara National Museum, 1995).

Nara National Museum, ed., Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan zohin zuhan mokuroku: Bukkyo kaigahen (Nara, Japan: Nara National Museum, 2002).

Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Calligraphy at Yale: From Sutra to the Avant-Garde,” Arts of Asia (March–April 2018): 89, fig. 3.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.