Artist/maker unknown, Japanese
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This monumental painting depicts the historical Shaka Buddha, or Shakyamuni, seated on a lotus throne. He is accompanied by the bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) Fugen and Monju, who embody wisdom and benevolence, respectively. On the right side of the Buddha, Fugen rides a six-tusked white elephant, with the tusks symbolizing the six senses and its body’s white color representing purity. On the left side, Monju rides a spirited guardian lion. Together with their powerful animal companions, the two bodhisattvas attend to the Shaka Buddha and help uphold and disseminate his teachings.