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Portrait of Prince Shotoku (Shotoku Taishi) with His Younger Brother and Son

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Prince Shotoku (574-622) is a figure of mythic status in Japan; he is regarded as Japan's first great imperial statesman and the founding father of Buddhism in Japan, as well as an incarnation of assorted Buddhist deities and distinguished monks. This painting is a later version of a very famous portrait of the prince wearing Chinese-style court robes, dating to the late seventh or early eighth centuries.Paintings such as this and the cult with which they are associated came about in part because of the successful promotion of Prince Shotoku by those with a vested interest in perpetuating the lineage of the imperial family.This label is based on the research of independent Asian art scholar Patricia Graham.