Japanese nutmeg-yew wood with traces of color and gold
Overall: 46.7 cm (18 3/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1961.48
Rinpa (Japanese Art Gallery 235 A Rotation - April 2021-October 2021).
Japanese nutmeg-yew, or kaya, was used as a replacement for the unobtainable sandalwood of which small Buddhist sculptures imported from China were made.
Bodhisattvas are beings who have attained enlightenment but delay entry into Buddhahood until they have fulfilled their varied vows to aid others along the path to enlightenment. The flowing robes and curving posture of this figure were inspired 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 (Gekkō Bosatsu), this figure likely flanked a sculpture of the Medicine Master Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai).
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