E Ingakyo (Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect) (絵因果経)

The E Ingakyo is one manuscript of the "Kako Genzai Inga-kyo Sutra" (one of the sutras representing the life-story of the Buddha) with transcribed sutras in the lower half of the Kansubon (book in scroll style) as well as illustrations in the upper half depicting the contents of the sutra, and it is believed to be the origin of emakimono (picture scrolls) which spread nationwide from the time of the Heian period.

The E Ingakyo was compiled to pass down the life of Buddha in an accessible way by adding illustrations to "Kako Genzai Ingakyo Sutra," which is a biography of Buddha describing events stretching from his good conduct in his previous life to his spiritual enlightenment in this. Two types of E Ingakyo remain, one produced in the Nara period and the other in the Kamakura period. The former is called 'Ko-Ingakyo Sutra' (old Ingakyo Sutra), and is regarded as an important document for the study of pictures in the Nara period as very few illustrations remain from this era. The style, with the sutra transcribed in the lower half of the Kansubon together with illustrations depicting the sutra painted in the upper half, originated in China, and this has been proved by the archaeological finds of Dun Huang which show their similarity.

Although the E Ingakyo is widely believed to have been influential in the development of emakimono, there is some doubt whether the E Ingakyo had a direct relationship with the emakimono produced abundantly from the Heian period, because the painting style of the E Ingakyo is extremely antique and simple.

Products remaining from the Nara period include Kansubon owned by the Tokyo University of Arts (National Treasure), Kansubon owned by Jobonrendai-ji Temple in Kyoto (National Treasure), Kansubon owned by Daigo-ji Temple in Kyoto (National Treasure) and Kansubon owned by the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo (Important Cultural Property). The "Kako Genzai Ingakyo Sutra" is a set of sutras in four volumes, while E Ingakyo consists of eight scrolls in total as each volume of "Kako Genzai Ingakyo Sutra" has two scrolls, depicting the first and second halves. However, each Kansubon owned by the above-mentioned facilities is only a single scroll out of the eight. There are also subtle differences in the painting style of each piece, indicating that each Kansubon belonged to separate sets of manuscript.

[Original Japanese]