“Devadatta,” Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra

Period: Heian period (794–1185)

Date: 12th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Handscroll; gold and silver on indigo-dyed paper

Dimensions: 10 1/16 in. x 33 ft. (25.6 x 1005.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Seymour Fund, 1965

Accession Number: 65.216.1


This sutra once formed part of a much larger set of handscrolls depicting all twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most popular Buddhist scriptures. Each handscroll consists of a pictorial frontispiece followed by a section of text, all of which are brushed with gold paint on indigo-dyed paper. The present scroll represents a portion of the Lotus Sutra’s twelfth chapter, “Devadatta” (Japanese: Daibadatta), referring to the name of a friend and mentor of the Buddha in a former life. Several scenes from the chapter are depicted on the frontispiece. A scene at lower right shows the daughter of the Dragon King appearing before the Buddha and presenting him with a precious jewel.