Important Cultural PropertyLion (Manjusuri's Pedestal)

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  • 1 piece
  • Color on wood, single block construction
  • H 39.2
  • Heian period/11th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 758(彫21)
  • Provenance: Mii-dera Temple, Shiga Prefecture

This statue is said to have come down to the Shinrazenjin-do in Onjyo-ji Temple in Shiga. Due to the saddlecloth and the lotus flower shaped base placed on the back, it is clear that a Monjyu-Bosatsu statue was once placed on top.
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Three wooden boards made from a Japanese nutmeg tree are attached and another material used for the tail. The Uchiguri technique (hollowing out) is not used.

The round eyes grow wide, while the mouth is closed and the fang on both sides and the inside of the mouth can be seen. It faces front and stands firm on the ground on four legs. A wavy mane flows along the body. The back is high and the thick body is quite impressive. The muscles and bones of the legs and the toe nails are realistically represented contrary to expectation. It wears harnesses (Harubi, Munagai and Shirigai) from which bud-shaped bead accessories are hung.

Both the head and body are painted in ultramarine blue and the mane and other hair are blue green and the stomach area is bright red. The saddlecloth is painted in gold and the lotus flower is gorgeously painted in various colors, including bright red, ultramarine blue, blue green and white clay, with a finishing touch with an arrangement of cut gold. The Harubi, Munagai and Shirigai are covered in gold foil.

Due to features that include the old structure using Japanese nutmeg trees, the big eyes and the facial expression with its relatively simple facial structure and thick chest, it is similar to the Shishi (lion) or Komainu (guardian dog or lion) from the Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara made in 1087 or the Shishi from Kyoo Gokoku-ji Temple in Kyoto made in the late tenth century and it is therefore possible that it was made in the eleventh century.

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