Description This stunning work of art, a pagoda in miniature, was shown at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, a World’s Fair held in San Francisco in 1915. Pagodas are tall multi-roofed buildings that originally housed relics of the Buddha or another venerated person. The form derives from solid hemispherical structures known as stupas that memorialized the Buddha and his teachings in India. This pagoda evokes a five-story 7th-century example (the world’s oldest wooden structure) at Horyu-ji near the southern Japanese city of Nara. The work is a virtuosic display of craftsmanship. Every wall of the structure is decorated with scenic images, including spectacles such as Mt. Fuji, the Itsukushima Shrine, and the Kiyomizu Temple, while the roofs are embellished with figures of butterflies and birds in flight. The designs were created by hammering gold, silver, and copper sheets and wires onto a roughened steel surface, covering the compositions with successive thin coats of opaque black lacquer, and polishing the lacquer to expose the raised metal beneath.
- From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
Provenance The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1915; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Transcription] Nihon kuni Kyoto ju Komai sei; [Translation] Made by Komai, Kyoto, Japan
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1915
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