Sun Bodhisattva (Nikkō Bosatsu)

Sun Bodhisattva (Nikkō Bosatsu)


c. 800

Japanese nutmeg-yew wood with traces of color and gold

Overall: 46.7 cm (18 3/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1961.48


Did you know?

Japanese nutmeg-yew, or kaya, was used as a replacement for the unobtainable sandalwood of which small Buddhist sculptures imported from China were made.


With its enigmatic gaze Nikko, the Sun Bodhisattva, seems to radiate compassion. The flowing robes and curving posture might have been influenced by Chinese Buddhist sculpture; however, the interplay of the wood grain in this single block of yew, with the artist's subtle carving, is a Japanese innovation. Originally paired with the Moon Bodhisattva, this figure likely flanked a sculpture of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha.

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