Seated figure of Shaka
Japan, Edo period, 17th century AD
The historical Buddha
The historical Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in the kingdom of the Shakyas in northern India. In Sanskrit he is therefore also called Shakyamuni, sage of the Shakyas, and in Japanese, Shaka.
This gold-lacquered wood sculpture of Shaka was made for the Dairenji Temple (whereabouts unknown), and is inscribed with the names of the donors. The figure is made of joined sections of hollow-sculpted wood (yosegi zukuri), and the eyes are inset from the back.
According to Buddhist teaching, the merit which a person accumulates from good deeds will be carried over to future lives. By commissioning a monumental sculpture that will outlast his own life, a man hoped to ensure a higher place in the next stage of existence for himself and his family.