Buddhist Statues 2:

On the Path to Buddhahood


There are many Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) statues, but the most popular is the Jizo (or, more correctly, Jizou) Bosatsu, shown below.


These are stone Jizou statues. Jizou is a Bosatsu (Bodhisattva), the second of the four levels of Buddhist gods after the Nyorai, and very popular in Japan. Customs vary from region to region, and sometimes they are placed in water (in hope of bringing rain), tied up (in hope of catching a thief) or dressed (in gratitude for offering protection). They offer protection against almost all forms of suffering, and are often seen in graveyards, where they usually remain until their features have been all but weathered away. These two measure 13 cm. (5.2 inches) and 15 cm. (6 inches) respectively.


This statue (right) is a wooden Jizou from the Edo period. Just for comparison, below is a wooden Jizou exhibited at the 1986 Eikando Zenrin-ji exhibition (i.e., not part of my collection):

Both are carrying the wish-fulfilling jewel. The main differences (apart from the fact that the Eikando Zenrin-ji exhibit is much larger, much older and much more valuable) are that my statue is painted and, while made of wood, has a metal halo. He stands 12 cm. (4.8 inches) high - 14 cm. (5.6 inches) with the halo - and is carved from a single piece, including the base.


This is  Kannon Bosatsu. Kannon is the goddess of mercy and compassion. Kannon is depicted in several different forms. This one is Senju Kannon - the Kannon of a Thousand Hands. This statue is some 19 cm. (7.6 inches) in height, about 30.5 cm. (12.2 inches) including the base and mandorla. Wooden, Edo period.


I am told that this kind of hat indicates a Bosatsu. That will do as well, I suppose, as my other guesses about this statue (i.e., that it may be a monk or priest or one of the Tenbu group of Buddhist deities). Anyway, until I can identify it positively I'm adding it here. As a statue, it is one of my favourites. It is complete and undamaged, and sits inside its original zushi (miniature shrine).  The figure itself is beautifully carved from a single piece of wood, and is 11 cm. (4.4 inches) high. The zushi is 20 cm. (10 inches) high. I have seen one other comparable statue, though the workmanship was of lower quality and the figure depicted was not carrying a casket.


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