An image of Taima mandala (depicting the Western paradise presided over by Amida Buddha)

Pure Land sect

(Japan  – )

Taima mandala (depicting the Western paradise presided over by Amida Buddha)

Other titles:
Taima mandala
Not on display
Further information

The 'Taima mandala' is one of the most celebrated of the group of works of early Japanese Buddhist art known as the Pure Land mandalas. The prototypes for these mandalas, sacred diagrams of the cosmos, were established in eighth-century China when the Paradise sutras and the realms of Amitabha (Amida) Buddha were gaining widespread popularity. The Chinese sense of order and design is pervasive in the complex layout of gardens, landscape, temples and architecture, all occupied by numerous Bodhisattvas, deities and divine attendants. This painted version of the 'Taima mandala' faithfully replicates the silk original, which according to legend was woven in the eighth century, and is still housed in the Taima-dera monastery south of the ancient capital of Nara. The design is dominated by the central figure of Amida Buddha, attended by his Bodhisattvas Kannon (Avalokiteshvara) and Seishi (Mahasthamaprapta), along with a rich host of deities, attendants and celestial musicians, all presiding over their Western Paradise. The borders also follow the original layout. Depicted on the left side is the story of Prince Ajatasatru. On the right are thirteen of the sixteen contemplations embodying the essentials of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. These teach the devotee how to visualise and thereby realise within himself the glories of the Pure Land. Along the lower edge the three remaining contemplations are divided into the nine possible degrees of rebirth into the Western Paradise.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 269.

Place of origin
Japan: Kamakura period 1185–1333
early 14th century
hanging scroll; ink and colour with gold on silk
146.0 x 138.0 cm image; 257 x 145.1 cm scroll
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 1991
Accession number