Object photography

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On View Charles Goddard Weld Hall, level 2

Object description

  • Japanese cabinetmaker
  • Portable sutra chest, 16th century
  • Wood, gilt bronze, lacquer
  • Japan
  • H: 27 1/4 in, W: 21 1/2 in, D: 12 1/4 in (H: 69.2 cm, W: 54.6 cm, D: 31.1 cm)
  • Museum purchase, 2006
  • E303292


This is a portable Sutra chest with gold and bronze fitting over lacquered wood core. Itinerant monks used cabinets like this, roped to their backs, specifically for carrying sutras, Buddhist scriptures. This is a particularly fine example, distinguished by the sumptuous gilded and incised decoration on both exterior and interior. The vajra, a ceremonial implement in esoteric Buddhism, is depicted at the sides of the bottom compartment. Another vajra representation comprises the handle of the Buddhist ritual bell in a nearby case.

Exhibition History

  • Japanese Art Gallery, Peabody Essex Museum; January 06, 2003 through Present