The bodhisattva Kannon

From Japan
Kamakura period, 14th century AD

Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara) was one of the principal bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism in east Asia. In Jōdo ('Pure Land') Buddhism he often appears with the bodhisattva Seishi (Sanskrit: Mahasthamaprapta) flanking the Buddha Amida (Sanskrit: Amitabha) in a triad welcoming the souls of the dead into the Western Paradise. In this statue, Kannon is shown in traditional welcoming posture and originally held a lotus flower which had the power to carry the faithful to paradise.

The structural technique used is yosegi zukuri, which means that the statue is made of hollow components fitted together. The decoration on the robes, consisting of leaves, waves, hatching and linked swastikas, is all of gold foil typical of sculpture of the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

W. Zwalf (ed.), Buddhism: art and faith (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)


Height: 87.000 cm

Museum number

Asia JA 1886.3-22.7



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