National TreasureSeated Yakushi (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru)

Save Image

image 全画面表示
  • 木造薬師如来坐像
  • 1 statue
  • Wood with pigments and lacquered gold foil (present state)
  • H 49.7
  • Heian period/9th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 645(彫10)

  This statue of Yakushi (Skt. Bhaişajyaguru) was initially worshipped as an image of a Shinto deity at Nyakuoji-sha Shrine in the Higashiyama section of Kyoto Prefecture. The shrine is thought to have been built around the late twelfth century when the retired Emperor Goshirakawa (1127-1197) requested the three Kumano deities to descend upon Nyakuoji-sha Shrine. However, it is unknown where the statue was originally enshrined as the image is believed to have been created in the ninth century. During the forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism in the early Meiji period (1868-1912), the image was designated a possession of the shrine. Later, it passed through the hands of three collectors before it was donated to the Nara National Museum.
  The entire piece, down to the floral dais, except for the hands and the curls on the head (rahotsu), was made of a single, solid piece of what is probably oak (kaya), and the inside was not inner cavity (uchiguri). This technique is a distinctive feature of Buddhist wooden sculptures from the late Nara (710-794) and early Heian (794-1185) periods. Features such as the sharply carved drapery folds with ridges-the so-called “inverted wave” pattern (honpashiki emon)-closely resemble those of Monju (Skt. Mañjuśrī) in the guise of a monk at Toji (Kyoo-gokokuji) Temple and the central figure of Amida (Skt. Amitābha) Triad at Shitennoji Temple in Osaka Prefecture. From these similarities, we can date this work to the mid-ninth century.
  The stylistic quality of this statue has a unique foreignness; its soft, full eyelids and long, thin eyes with large pupils are reminiscent of Indian Buddhist images. Examples of this sculptural style include the Nyoirin Kannon (Skt. Cintāmaṇicakra) of Kanshinji Temple in Osaka, the Juichimen Kannon (Skt. Ekādaśamukha-avalokiteśvara) of Hokkeji Temple in Nara Prefecture, and the Yakushi in the Kosetsu Museum of Arts, which can be grouped into a distinct lineage of sculpture from the early Heian period.