Welcoming Descent of Amida and Bodhisattvas

Artist: Unidentified Artist

Period: Nanbokuchō period (1336–92)

Date: late 14th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk

Dimensions: 65 3/4 x 33 1/2 in. (167 x 85.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1942

Accession Number: 42.25.37


Like many works of art created to represent the Pure Land school's belief in salvation through faith, a painting such as this depicting Amida and his attendants descending from heaven to take a believer back to the Western Paradise (raigo) was an indispensable religious image at the time of death. Raigo paintings were often hung by the bedside of the dying to ensure the prospect of rebirth in paradise. Since traditionally the dying lay with their heads to the north and their faces looking west, raigo paintings usually depict the Buddha and his entourage descending from the upper left toward the lower right, aligned with the gaze of the dying individual. Sometimes a silken cord is attached to the Buddha's hand, providing a physical representation of Amida's promise to lead the soul to paradise.