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Art & Antiques - Bachmann Eckenstein

Jizo Bosatsu - Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha
Japan, Edo Period (1603 - 1868), 17th ct.
Cypress wood with cut gold leaf and traces of pigment; staff with metal
Ht: 96.5 cm (38 inch)

Tsa Tsa with Stupa

In Asia, Kshitigarbha is generally worshipped as a saviour bodhisattva who will help the devoted during the age of the decline of Buddhist teachings. In Japan, Kshitigarbha is known as Jizo and has a more specific function: he is widely worshipped as the protector of ailing children and aborted foetuses. As mothers of the deceased young souls, women seem to have been the principle shapers and creators of the Jizo cult, and it flourishes in Japan today. The deity's childlike image encourages the parent to see him alternately as an innocent child and a gentle saviour figure. Small crude statues of Jizo, with red bibs and sometimes staffs topped with rings, are placed on temple grounds and public roads in memory of young souls. Jizo Bosatsu has been worshiped since the Heian period. He is represented wearing rich brocade robes with a white face and holding a hoju [sacred jewel] in his left hand to illuminate the darkness of hell, and a shakujo in his right hand. This statue shows Jizo descending from the heavens, as suggested by the cloud that supports his lotus pedestal.

Carved wood figure with separate daiza [stand], kohai [halo] and shakujo [staff], the face, chest and hands with white pigment, the byakugo [whorl of hair in the centre of the forehead] of crystal, the lips with red pigment; the shari [reliquary] held in the left hand with gold lacquer, the robes with extensive decoration in gold lacquer and colour, the double hokai, shakujo and daiza of wood with gold lacquer, the shakujo also with loose metal rings, the elaborate daiza consisting of a square base, with a scalloped edge and four recessed carved openwork panels, supporting elaborately carved clouds on which stands a conventional lotus pedestal in four stages, the lotus petals in gnarled wood with green pigment and gold lacquer.

all text & images © Art & Antiques - Bachmann Eckenstein

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