Kakebotoke (Hanging round tablet) with image of Shō-kan’non (Avalokiteśvara)


Kakebotoke (Hanging round tablet) with image of Shō-kan’non (Avalokiteśvara)

Craft work / Nara


Kamakura period, 13th century


D 32.5, H of statue 25.2


Both the disk and the image of Shōkannon (Avalokiteśvara) are carved from a single block of katsura wood. The front half of Shōkannon’s body, who is sitting on a lotus seat and is bearing a halo, is carved in relief on the rimmed disk. There is an inscription in ink on the back of the disk. Although part of the inscription has faded, the name of a priest who raised money for the manufacture of this hanging tablet and the name of the sculptor who made it, are still legible.
Another hanging tablet, which is similar to this tablet and is considered to have been made by the same sculptor during the same period, is kept in Shōrin-ji temple in Yamagata prefecture. The tablet in Shōrin-ji temple depicts the Jūichimen-kannon (Ekadaśamukha) with eleven heads on the front-side and bears an inscription in ink on the back-side. According to this inscription, the tablet was made in 1228 and Jūichimem-kannon is described as a Buddhist deity who transformed itself to become a Shinto deity of Hakusan shrine. Katsura wood was often used for making sculptures in the Tōhoku district including Yamagata prefecture. Both of these tablets are important examples because the background of the production, such as the date and the sculptor’s name, are known. These information are very important in the history of hanging tablets bearing Buddhist images.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.125, no.99.

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