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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: China
Period: Ming dynasty
Title: Text from the Heart Sutra, from an album of twenty-four Portraits of Guanyin
Date: late 16th century
Medium: Album pages: gold ink on dyed paper
Dimensions: Image (each): 11 9/16 x 8 11/16 inches (29.4 x 22.1 cm) Sheet: 14 9/16 x 22 inches (37 x 55.9 cm) Mat: 22 x 28 inches (55.9 x 71.1 cm)
Credit Line: Acquired through the generosity of Judith Stoikov, Class of 1963, supplemented by the George and Mary Rockwell Fund, and gift of Warner L. Overton, Class of 1922, by exchange
Object Number: 2002.012.001
Label Text: The Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra are texts extracted from the Mahaprajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom), the main teaching of Mahayana Buddhism. The most famous translation of the Heart Sutra into Chinese was made by the monk Xuanzang (602–664); on his long journeys to and from India he repeatedly recited the text for protection from danger.

Sutra writing in gold ink on dyed paper reflects both the preciousness of the text and the piousness of the patron who has expended wealth in order to create a lavish copy of the sutra. Tu Long, a Ming dynasty official and essayist, calligraphed this text for the beginning of an album of paintings of twenty-four portraits of the bodhisattva Guanyin, by Miss Qiu (active ca. 1580), which were also painted in gold ink. The patron of the album was a devout Buddhist: the wife of the prominent Ming dynasty art collector, Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590). ("Xu Bing: The Character of Characters," curated by Ellen Avril and presented at the Johnson Museum August 11-December 23, 2018)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.