Important Cultural PropertyAvalokitesvara (Kannon Bosatsu)

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  • 1 statue
  • Cast bronze, gold-plated
  • Statue H22.4
  • Asuka period/7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-165

The inscription on the top of the pedestal says that this image was created as a result of a votive offering by Kasanokorinokimi's (笠評君) child and uncle for the repose of the soul of Kasanokorinokimi, who passed away on July 10 in the year of Kanotoi. The year of Kanotoi is estimated to be 651, since it has been elucidated that the kanji character "評" in the inscription is a character that began to be used during the period from the Taika (645 – 650) to Taiho (701 – 704) eras. According to the inscription, the votive offering for the creation of the image was made on the very day when Kasanokorinokimi died. It is interesting to know that both the offering and the inscription were made within a day of someone's death.
The tenne (a long cloth) sticks out like a fin and the image displays bilateral symmetry. While these characteristics seem to reflect the Tori style, this image also shows some features beyond the Tori style, such as mild facial features where the eyebrows and eyes are represented by elevation changes, the hanging hair bound at the ends without curls and the fin-like tenne, the ends of which warp outward. This is the oldest existing Kannon image with an avatar in the crown and with a known year of creation.
Currently, the area from the body to the lotus core is separated from the area below the pedestal with down-turned petals (it is very likely that they were cast separately). The bottom of the lotus core is inserted into a round hole created on the down-turned petals to join them together. The body is hollowed out up to the bottom of the neck. An iron core remains in the hollow portion, the end of which appears inside the lotus core (the cross-section is square). There is a big crossbeam inside the lotus core, on which some inner mold clay remains. Although mold cavities can be found all over the body, there are few below the pedestal with down-turned petals. Gold plating remains over almost the entire surface except the inside of the crown and the hair (some remains in the engraved lines of the inscription). For coloring, lapis lazuli remains on the hair, black (sumi?) remains on the outline of the eyes, eyeballs and mustache and a slight amount of vermillion (or Bengala) can be seen on the lips.

Inscription (on the lower base)