Central Asian Antiquities

Illustrated manuscript Prajnapamita Hrdaya sutra

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Illustrated manuscript Prajnapamita Hrdaya sutra
890 A. D.

Place of origin: Dunhuang, Gansu, China
Materials: Paper
Dimensions: W:13.7 L: 12.5 cm
Acc. No. Ch.xviii.002 (2003/17/353)

This manuscript contains four beautiful drawings of four Lokapalas, viz. Vaisravana,Virudhaka, Virupaksa and Dhrtarastra. Here in this folio Vaisravana sits on demons, clad in full martial uniform, with his right hand holding a pike with triple pennon, and a stupa in the left. On his right side is a standing figure wearing a hood of tiger skin. The inscription in the cartouche on the left: 'Praise to Vaisramana, Devaraja of the North'.

The text is written in Chinese characters. The cover is also scripted with the Chinese characters. This manuscript is not only beautifully illustrated but also dated. The inscription of this folio reads as below (by Waley):-

On the 18th day of the 2nd month of the 2nd year of Lung Chi (A.D. 890), the disciple, the Chiang-shih- lang, acting as Secretary to the Shen Armay of the Left, Assistant in the Censorate, pillar of His Country, bearer of the Red Fish portfolio, Chang Chin-o, with revent heart copied and illustrated this volume of sutras, containing passages referring to his patron Buddha, with pictures of the Four Lokapalas and Six Spirit Captains, etc., by whose power he was able to obtain official rank and was decorated with robes of honour in record of which he now makes this perpetual offering. His cousin, the priest His-shou, joins in this act of piety.'

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