More Buddhist Texts from the Kamada Collection

This week we introduce another set of texts from the Kamada Collection related to Buddhism. This is the last in our summer series of posts highlighting this rich collection. 

Whereas the sutra showcased last week had no illuminations, the sutra featured below has illustrations alongside the text. 


Picture and text from the Universal Gate portion of the Kannon Sutra.

This image comes from a small handheld printing of the Kanzeon shutsusō fumonbonkyō 観世音出相普門品経, or the Kanzeon (Kannon) Universal Gate Sutra. The manuscript is only 15.5 x 10.7 x 1 cm, making it easily portable. The date is unclear, but it is likely a mid-Edo period printing. Often called the Kannon Sutra, the Universal Gate is one chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential Mahayana texts. The image above illuminates part of the text calling for faith even if one is “adrift on the ocean, menaced by dragons, fish, and various demons.”

In contrast to modest manuscript above, the image below comes from a full-sized, thick compilation of Buddhist images, the Meiji sōho shoshū butsuzō zui 明治増補諸宗仏像図彙. Although it was printed in Tokyo during the Meiji period, the exact date is unclear. The book contains page after page of hundreds of Buddhist figures illustrated with minute attention to detail. It includes multiple ways of writing each deity’s name, with helpful readings for kanji and, in some cases, short explanations. Note the figure Kangiten in the upper-right hand corner, who is the Japanese form of the Hindu Ganesha. Kangiten carries a daikon (radish), which is a typical offering to him.

Picture of Kangi, Japanese version of the Hindu Ganesha