Prince Shōtoku at Age Two (Shōtoku Taishi)

Prince Shōtoku at Age Two (Shōtoku Taishi)

聖徳太子立像(二歳像)

early 1300s

Wood with lacquer, color, and rock-crystal inlaid eyes

Overall: 68.6 cm (27 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Campbell Weir in memory of Dr. and Mrs. William Hawksley Weir 1989.76

Fun Fact

Shotoku Taishi had several titles. One translates to "the prince of the stable door" because he was said to have been born in the imperial stables.

Description

This sculpture depicts Shotoku Taishi (about 574–622), prince regent of Japan, in a pose indicating a particular episode from legends about his life. Shotoku is widely recognized as a major force in the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, and a robust religious cult devoted to the prince had developed by the late 13th century. This idealized portrait commemorates the moment when the precocious prince, aged two, faced east, placed his palms together in a gesture known as gassho, and intoned the name of the Buddha, all without having been taught the practice. The incident foreshadowed his future role as a champion of Buddhism.

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