Important Cultural PropertyAvalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

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  • Wood with color
  • H. 160.9 cm (statue); H. 194.9 cm (aureole)
  • Heian period, 10th century
  • Kyushu National Museum
  • C7

Avalokiteshvara wears a large topknot and a base for a crown on their head. They are dressed in a robe draped over their left shoulder, a skirt, and a long strip of cloth typically found on bodhisattva images. Their left arm is bent at the elbow, and their left hand sometimes holds a water jar (an object added to the image by later generations). Their right arm is pendent with its palm facing the viewer, and the middle finger slightly bent forward. They stand upon a lotus pedestal with hips slightly twisted to the left and their right knee slightly bent. The figure itself is carved from a single block of Japanese nutmeg wood, and has been left solid instead of being hollowed out like statues sometimes are. Its stand is joined to the pedestal using round mortise joints. The surface of this statue is covered in what appears to be dated colors, but these were likely painted on by later generations. In addition, a layer of wood appears to have been shaved off the original surface, a modification that has likely changed the shape of its face.

The physique of this image is thick and stout, with broad shoulders. The folds of its robes are carved to form alternating high and low ridges, a style reminiscent of early-Heian-period Buddhist images; however, the low-relief carvings in general point to early-tenth-century workmanship. In addition, the provenance of this statue is unknown.

This image came with a full-bodied aureole supported by a base, both made of cypress wood; the patterns on the aureole are colored. Although it shares many similarities with wooden aureoles from Taima Temple in Katsuragi, Nara, which were created in the ninth century, it demonstrates features that only developed later on, such as the way the head halo and the body halo have joined to form a compound halo. The aureole was also not created specifically for this bodhisattva either. Nevertheless, both the statue and its aureole are classic examples of works in their respective categories created in the tenth century.