Unidentified artist (first half of the 14th century)
Hanging scroll; gold and color on silk; 33 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (84.5 x 36.8 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.160.32)
The popularity of the Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha (Jijang) in Goryeo Pure Land Buddhism is demonstrated by the frequent depiction of the deity in devotional paintings. Kshitigarbha is most commonly portrayed as a monk holding a mendicant's staff and a wish-fulfilling jewel (cintamani), the light of which could illuminate even the darkest corners of hell. With the growing popularity of the Pure Land school at all levels of Korean society in the thirteenth century, during which time the peninsula suffered six invasions by Mongol armies, the promise of paradise for the faithful and the threat of hell for evil beings became increasingly attractive concepts. The image of Jijang standing on lotus-flower pedestals and holding his staff and cintamani represented to devotees his power over hell, from which he could deliver unfortunate beings and lead them to paradise.
The variety of colors used in this paintingfrom the malachite green of the gold-edged nimbus and the bright cinnabar red of the underskirt to the bluish gray monk's robe and the dazzling gold of the textile patternsprovides striking contrasts. The rich ornamentation of the decorative motifs on the garment is executed with virtuosity.