|| Dried bulbs of cloves were used in ancient times to scent and dye paper. The plant’s strong pungent odor was an effective insect repellent, and in shakyo production, rendering the paper insect-resistant was an important concern as sutras were meant to be preserved eternally.
The exhibited segment shows traces of clove juice sprayed on Japanese washi paper, which was then ruled with gold mud. This was followed by decorations of plants, birds and butterflies, also drawn in gold mud, resulting in one of the most gorgeously decorated papers. Over this, the text from Lotus Sutra Volume 5 Chapter 13 “Exhortation to Hold Firm” was copied. Originally, this segment was a part of a ten-scroll manuscript including the eight-volume Lotus Sutra, an opening sutra (Sutra of Innumerable Meanings) and a closing sutra (Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva of Universal Virtue). Later, the elegant and exquisite brushwork was attributed to Empress Komyo (700-760) of the Nara Dynasty. The calligraphic style and decorative techniques closely resemble those seen in the Imperial Katsurano-Miya Family Manuscript of Manyoshu produced during the mid-Heian Period. Therefore, one can conclude that this segment was actually transcribed and decorated during the mid-11th century.