Important Cultural PropertyEleven-Headed Kannon (Ekādashamukha Avalokitesvara)

Save Image

image 全画面表示
  • 1 statue
  • Wood (sandalwood)
  • H 42.4, pedestal H 17.6
  • Tang period, China/7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • C-304

This is one of the old Buddhist images made of sandalwood that had been brought into Japan from China. It is said that this was possessed by a temple at Tonomine. The image, approximately 42cm high, is made of white sandalwood and decorated with yoraku (beaded or metal decorations or accessories, such as a necklace). While these characteristics follow the creation method of an eleven-headed image stipulated in a sutra, this one has a Buddhist rosary in its right hand and yoraku around the right wrist and the face of Bodhisattva among the heads on the head of this image has fangs (gejoshutsumen). These two points show that this image was created based on the three sutras that had been translated into Japanese from the sixth century to the mid-seventh century.
The head is relatively large compared to the size of the body and the 11 faces on the head are installed on bowl-shaped headgear with mortises. The meditative facial expression with its long arched eyebrows and downcast eyes suggests its kinship with the reflective and calm expressions of Gupta-style images of Buddha in India and seems to reflect the fact that Indian Buddhist images were introduced to China in the seventh century by Genjo (Xuan-zang) and Ogensaku, which gave rise to the trend of creating Indian-style Buddhist images in China.
Over the body, kyoshoku (necklaces), hisen (decorations on the upper arm) and yoraku (beaded decorations) are elaborately engraved and the abdomen protrudes slightly. It wears a sogishi (a robe worn by Buddhist priests) and the tenne (a long strip of cloth hanging down from the shoulders), the bottom of the robe and the design of the back all display an abstract representation of bilateral symmetry, which is a style preceding the more realistic style of the nine-headed Kannon image of Horyuji Temple.
From the aforementioned features, it is estimated that this image was created in the mid-seventh century.
The face in the center of the head and four faces on the left, half of the left forearm and the left hand, the symbol of the image held in the right hand, part of the separated portions of the yoraku, tenne and pedestal have been repaired in later years. A big laughing face behind the head and a mortise on the left foot are missing.