Important Cultural PropertySenju Kannon and Standig Kannon

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  • 絹本著色千手観音像・木造観音立像
  • 2 pieces (1 hanging scroll & 1 statue)
  • Ink and colors on silk Hanging scroll Standing statue: Wood with lacquered gold foil Joined block construction Carved eyes
  • H(painting) 93.8, W(painting) 39.5, H(statue) 53.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 1105(絵204 A)

  Senju Kannon (Skt. Sahasrabhuja-avalokiteśvara) is one of the Transforming Kannon (Henge Kannon). It is also called Senju Sengan Kanjizai Bosatsu (that means the bodhisattva looking everything with thousand arms and thousand eyes) and its one thousand arms and eyes demonstrate the depth of its compassion. This painting is famous as a unique example of an authentic Buddhist painting stored in a wooden statue. Despite the damage, it can be presumed that the wooden statue was Jūichimen Kannon (Skt. Ekādaśamukha-avalokiteśvara) and made at the end of the Heian period (794–1185). This painting seems to have made in an era a little earlier than that. It is relatively small, but the magnificence of the Senju Kannon itself, the pedestal and the Buddha canopy create a sense of dignity. The coloring is based on the contrast between red and green and several colors mixed with gold and silver leaves are simply but finely used to add a sense of openness to this painting. The many arms form a beautiful circle as if they are a part of a mandorla and this contributes to reduce the degree of weirdness of the image. Most arms and weapons among various possessions based on esoteric Buddhism sutras and manuals were drawn as a draft, but they were intentionally omitted at the coloring stage. In addition, it seems the feature of a pot on the abdomen that is represented in a similar style as lacquered furniture is ideal for personal worship.