Sanpo-e (a Japanese literary collection of Buddhist narratives) (三宝絵詞)
Sanbo-ekotoba is a collection of Buddhist tales compiled in the middle of the Heian period. It is also called Sanbo-E for short.
It was completed in December 984 during the reign of Emperor Enyu. Tales were selected by the scholar MINAMOTO no Tamenori (? - 1011) and dedicated to Imperial Princess Sonshi (966 - 985) of nihon (the second court rank). As decided by fortune-telling, Imperial Princess Sonshi became Sai-in (Imperial Princess appointed to serve the deities of the Kamo-jinja Shrines) of her father, Emperor Reizei, when she was three years old, and later married her uncle, Emperor Enyu, after her father resigned as Emperor; however, she had her hair cut in secret and entered the priesthood in May 982. Afterwards, three volumes of 'Sanbo-ekotoba' were offered to the Imperial Princess as introduction to the priesthood. According to the annotation, these books originally had illustrations, but they were excluded over time and only text-based tales remain.
Sanbo refers to Buddhist images (such as Buddha), laws (Buddhist scriptures), and monks, and the books describe their kudoku (merits). 13 tales in the first volume are about Shakyamuni's good deeds in a previous life. 18 tales in the second volume are biographies of high-rank monks of that imperial reign and 17 of them have been cited from "Nihon Ryoiki" (Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition, written in the early Heian period). The third volume describes the history and manners of annual Buddhist services (masses) for each month.
These three volumes supposedly correspond to 'a long time ago,' 'in the middle,' and 'now.'
Existing books may be written in hiragana, Japanized Chinese, or in a combination of Chinese characters and katakana characters. Compilations of these various texts have been published by Gendaishicho-sha and The Toyo Bunko (Oriental Library) of Heibon-sha.
Some of the writing has been believed to be MINAMOTO no Toshiyori's calligraphic works. The drawing style is refined, neat, and elegant.
The postscript reads 'copying completed on July 11, 1120.'