Sutra Table

Japanese (Japanese)
17th century
Lacquered wood, pigments
: 49 x 19 x 17 1/2 in. (1.2 m x 48.26 cm x 44.45 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
Object Number

A sutra is a Buddhist holy text. This ornate table would have been used for reading sutras or displaying sacred objects in a Buddhist temple or shrine. Its cloud-form legs are short because the Japanese traditionally sat on mats on the floor. The front of the table is decorated with images of lotus blossoms. Lotuses appear frequently in Buddhist art because the beautiful flower that rises up from the muck of a pond was seen as a metaphor for the Buddha, who transcended his base human nature and achieved perfect enlightenment. The underside of the table is inscribed with dates equivalent to the years 1667 and 1669 that may commemorate the table’s use in significant ceremonies at those times. The table is said once to have belonged to the Tokugawa family, who
were the supreme military rulers of Japan from 1603 to 1867.