The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Japanese Art Until C. 1400

What is a raigo image?

A raigo was a type of image that warmly depicted the Amida Buddha welcoming dying souls to paradise. The Descent of the Amida Trinity is a raigo triptych from the Kamakura period in which the illuminated forms of the Amida Buddha and two bodhisattvas appear to hover against a dark background. The radiant figures were done with gold paint and gold leaf, creating a contrast with the otherwise subdued silk surface of the triptych. The image emphasizes comfort and peace in the face of death.

The “Womb World Mandala,” which is from Japan’s Heian period, is a cosmic diagram of the universe according to the Pure Land Buddhist tradition. (Art courtesy the Art Archive / Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection.)


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