Wood sculpture of the Buddha Amida Nyorai

Japan, Edo period, 18th century

Height: 33 inches, 84 cm
Width: 11 3/4 inches, 30 cm

A large wood figure of the Buddha, depicted standing on a high, multi-part throne in the form of a lotus, dressed in elaborately folded robes, which cover the shoulders, fall open at the chest and leave the feet exposed. The face has a serene expression and symmetrical features, a sensuous mouth and a long, straight nose. The hooded eyelids almost cover the inset painted eyes and are surmounted by arched eyebrows. The ears have long pendulous lobes, the ends of which are pierced. A small semi-precious stone on the forehead between the eyebrows indicates the third eye of spiritual vision. The head is covered in a tightly fitting, black painted coiffure. The Buddha’s right hand is raised, holding a separate staff, which is pointed at the top and hung with several rings. His left hand is extended forwards, palm upwards, and holds a peach. The sculpture is covered in ample gilding. At the back is a removable giltbronze halo, the rays of which extend beyond the Buddha’s head. The composite lotus base is also gilded, and in turn supported by a ‘rockwork’ wood stand, which is painted black.

Stylistically, this serene, large wood figure of the Buddha carries on the tradition of Japanese wood sculpture from earlier eras, such as the Kamakura period (1185-1333), typical features of which are simple folded clothing and a serene expression. Indeed these characteristics continued to define sculpture of later periods. A standing wood Muromachi period Buddha with comparable features is in the Avery Brundage Collection at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.[1] A standing wood sculpture of Amida Nyorai dated to the Edo period 17th – 18th century is in the Langen collection.[2]

  1. Lefebvre d’Argencé, R-Y. Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1974, no. 218, p. 410
  2. Murase, M. Herbstwind in den Kiefern: Japanische Kunst der Sammlung Langen, Prestel, Munich, 1998, no. 25, p. 68-9