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Deer Mandala

Artist/maker unknown, Japanese

Made in Japan, Asia

Edo Period (1615-1868)

17th century

Color on silk; mounted as a hanging scroll

35 7/8 × 15 3/8 inches (91.2 × 39 cm) Mount: 62 13/16 × 20 1/8 inches (159.5 × 51.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Hollis Fund for East Asian Art Acquisitions, the J. Stogdell Stokes Fund, and the George W.B. Taylor Fund, 2005

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deer [x]   late kasuga mandara [x]   mt. mikasa [x]   raigo-like cloud motif [x]  

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Deer are considered to be the sacred messengers of Shinto deities. They are often depicted in mandalas such as this one from the Kasuga Shrine, built by the powerful Fujiwara clan in the early eighth century to protect the family and the new capital city, Nara. Here a white stag rides on a cloud, symbolizing his role as a messenger between earth and the gods. On his saddle is a branch of the sacred sakaki tree and a mirror, which, along with the sword and the jewel, is one of the three sacred symbols of Shinto.

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