Important Cultural PropertyAmitabha Buddha

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  • Lacquered wood with gold leaf
  • H. 96.7 cm
  • Heian period, 12th century
  • Kyushu National Museum
  • C4

Amitabha stands upon a lotus pedestal, wearing an under robe covering both shoulders, an outer robe that is draped over his left shoulder alone, as well as a skirt beneath that. His left arm is lowered, while his right arm is bent at the elbow. Both hands are extended forward, with palms facing the viewer and his thumbs touching his index fingers. This hand gesture is known as the raigō mudra, representing Amitabha’s act of welcoming the spirits of the dead into his West Land Paradise.

Despite the back of this statue bearing an inscription indicating the year 598, this statue was in fact carved at a later point during the Heian period (8th–12th century). The entire figure of Amitabha was carved out of a single log of cypress, after which it was split along its length into two halves (front and back) as well as at its neck, and hollowed out. His face bears a warm expression characteristic of statues made in the style of Jōchō, a famed Heian-period Buddhist sculptor; the creases formed by his cascading robes are shallow. These features all represent characteristics of late-Heian-period Buddhist images.

This statue was originally from Genmyōin Temple, which formerly stood in Kameoka, Kyoto, but is no longer extant. According to the temple’s history, it was established by Emperor Genmyō in 708, rebuilt by Taira no Shigemori in 1175 after falling to ruin, and restored in 1587 after being burned down in war.