Important Cultural PropertyBodhisattva sitting with his legs half-crossed

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  • 1 statue
  • Cast bronze, gold-plated
  • Statue H38.8
  • Asuka period/Suiko 14 (606) or Tenji 5 (666)
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-156

There is an inscription on the lower frame of the pedestal, which says that Taifu Koya made the votive offering for the creation of this image for the repose of the soul of his dead wife in the year of Hinoe Tora. There are two opinions on the exact year of Hinoe Tora, which are 606 and 666 and the issue remains unsettled. The former view (606) argues that the slim body and the schematic representation of the drapery folds show ancient traditional features and decorations that are very simple and that these features make it difficult to think that this image was created in the same year as the seated image of the Maitreya of Yachuji Temple, which also bears the inscription of the year of Hinoe Tora, but was determined to have been created in 666. On the other hand, the latter view (666) argues that the sanmentoshoku (a crown comprising three upstanding ornaments) and the ornament on the chest show new elements of Hakuho sculpture. It seems that a thorough investigation of the old and new elements of this image will become the key to determining when it was created. However, since the positioning of this image may drastically change the view of the Asuka and Hakuho sculpturing style, this image assumes great significance in the history of sculpture. While the modeling of the slim body shows flexibility, the hair, which makes up most of the metal surface and the kun (skirt), which spreads from the hips over to the back of the pedestal, fully demonstrate their own textures. The refined sculptural sense represented in this image stands out even among ancient gilt bronze Buddhist images.
The image, including the pedestal, is created in one cast and hollowed out below the hips. While the upper part of the body above the hips is solid, there is a relatively big cavity (probably a mold cavity) inside the head below the topknot. Although the thickness of the copper below the hips is thick and almost even and there are small mold cavities across the image, the overall casting finish is good. There are traces of an iron core having been pulled out along the center back in the hollow area and of inlay treatments on the bottom frame of the pedestal. Gold plating remains on almost the entire surface (including inside the engraved lines of the inscription), except for the reverse side of the head ornament and the back of the head. For coloring, lapis lazuli remains on the hair and the black sumi used on the eyebrows, mustache and beard can still be seen.

Inscription (the bottom frame of the pedestal)