Important Cultural PropertyBodhisattva, standing statue

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  • 1 statue
  • Color and gold on Wood, partly coated with thin gold strips, beaded eyes
  • H 104.5, pedestal H 34.8
  • Kamakura period/13th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • C-20

The name of this image is unknown since an identification mark, which is supposed to be at the front window of the crown, is missing. While its provenance is also unknown, the style is quite similar to that of Zenen, a sculptor of Buddhist images who created many Buddhist images for the temples in Nara during the Kamakura period. In particular, the method to insert the eyes made of crystal into the head is the same as that of the standing image of the eleven-headed Kannon Bodhisattva created by Zenen (possessed by the Nara National Museum). Moreover, since the design of the crown bears a striking resemblance to that of the standing Miroku Bodhisattva (Maitreya) image enshrined in the Honpo-jibutsudo of Kofukuji Temple, there is little doubt that this image was created around Nara. There are many similar images in Nara, which have been passed down as Miroku Bodhisattva images and this one also seems to be one of the vestiges of faith in Miroku that became prevalent in Nara during the Kamakura period. The year of creation is estimated to date back to the early thirteenth century.
 While the body is painted in gold, the kun (skirt) painted in red has a ground pattern (hemp leaf pattern) created using kirikane (a technique to cut metal leaf into strips or other shapes and paste them on a surface), on which a floral pattern is painted. Although the flowers have turned black now, they used to be painted in red gradation and the leaves were painted in blue gradation, on which the veins were represented by kirikane. The hem of the kun (skirt) is painted in lapis lazuli and has an exquisite kirikane lotus pattern. Coloring, gold painting and kirikane techniques are used to create the mokkomon (a decorative pattern shaped like a flower) in various sizes on the breechcloth, whereas the tenne (a long strip of cloth that drapes across the shoulders and hangs down on both sides of the figure) is painted on the front and back and then patterned using kirikane on the colored base. The initial clothing decoration must have been bright and colorful. The technique to place a colored pattern on the kirikane-patterned ground is often found on images created in Nara, which has been passing on the traditions of making Buddhist images since the Nara period and this image constitutes a typical example of such technique. Another noteworthy point about this image is that this is the only example remaining today where the lips are covered with crystal.