Ryūichi Abé: “A Lady Holding a Dagger and Water Vase"
BY INVITATION ONLY
Dates: 12/07–12/08, 2019
Title: “A Lady Holding a Dagger and Water Vase: On the Identity of a Portraited Figure in the Heike Nōkyō Lotus Sūtra Set”
Chapter (scroll) fifteen of the Heike nōkyō Lotus Sutra set features a beautiful portrait of a high court lady who is posing as one of the Ten Rākṣasī Women (Jūrasetsunyo), mighty protectors of the sūtra. This paper identifies the lady as Taira no Tokiko (1126–1185), one of the most powerful court ladies of the late Heian Japanese imperial court, and considers what sort of doctrinal interpretation of the Lotus Sūtra justified the placement of her portrait as the chapter fifteen frontispiece in the Heike nōkyō set.
Ryūichi Abé acquired his PhD from Columbia University and taught in the university’s Department of Religion for thirteen years. Having served as the department’s chair for four years, he moved to the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where he is the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions. His current research interests include history of Esoteric Buddhism in medieval East Asia, women and Buddhism in early medieval Japan, Buddhist philosophy and its relationship to visual art and literature, and Esoteric Buddhist language theories.