Important Cultural PropertyMahamaya (mother of Shakamuni Buddha) and heavenly beings

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  • 4 statues
  • Gold-plated bronze
  • Statue H: Mahamaya 16.5, heavenly beings 11.5-13.0
  • Asuka period/7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-191

Lady Māyā, Gautama Buddha's mother, stopped by at Lumbini Park with her attendants on her way back home. She reached for one blooming branch of an ashoka tree there. At that very moment, from the right side of her body, Buddha was born. This legendary scene is depicted by these statues. Group statues of this theme are rare to find. The statues are thought to be the ones referred to as "one statue of Lady Māyā" and "three statues of female attendants and others" that were "part of the group statues of the birth of the Buddha" in the Index of Buddha Statues and Other Items of the Golden Hall of Hōryūji. The Lady Māyā is cast in one wax mold and is hollow from the bottom end to around the waist. Each of the first and the second celestial beings is also cast in one wax mold, with a heavenly garment made of bronze-plate riveted on it. Those three pieces are thought to be made in the Asuka period, as their features such as the long faces and the abstract patterns on the garments show some similarities to the gilt-bronze Buddha statues created by the Tori school. The third celestial being is not gold-plated, while its head, lower arms and body are cast separately and jointed together with the method called arihozo (an inverted-trapezoidal tenon and a trapezoidal recess fitting firmly). It was made in the Kamakura period, imitating the first celestial being.