Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-1889)
Meiji era, ca. 1880s
Ink and color on paper
Benzaiten (弁才天, 弁財天) is a Japanese Buddhist goddess, who originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, just as Saraswati holds a veena. Benzaiten is a syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto side.
Source: Freer Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution