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The bodhisattva Jizō, a hanging scroll painting


Height: 948.000 mm
Width: 382.000 mm

Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.

Asia JA JP 18 (1913.5-1.055)

    The bodhisattva Jizō, a hanging scroll painting

    Kamakura period, late 13th century AD

    With the spread of faith in the Jōdo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the bodhisattva Jizō (Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha) was widely worshipped by the general populace as a salutary deity: Jizō would rescue them if they were reborn into one of the many hells vividly described in the doctrines of the sect. He is shown in the guise of a travelling monk with ringed staff and sacred jewel, who intercedes in the Six Realms of Birth to save the faithful and take them to the Western Paradise of the Buddha Amida (Amitabha).

    The bodhisattva directs a calm, benevolent gaze down towards the distressed believer, and his delicate fingers gesture with great sensitivity. The halo is outlined in simple cut gold-leaf (kiri-kane).

    It is more common for Jizō to be shown coming towards us from a distance on a cloud (raigō-zu). The pose here, therefore, with the large figure standing statically on a pair of lotus-flower pedestals, is unusual. Certain technical and stylistic features suggest a date in the later thirteenth century, which is relatively early for Jizō imagery. These include the generally subdued colouring of the robe and the monk's stole held with a metal ring at the shoulder (kan-kesa), as well as the strong, modulating ink outlines of the drapery.

    The ancient silk support is damaged in many places, particularly the area of Jizō's right arm and shoulder.

    I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)


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