Thousand-Armed Kannon (Sahasrabhūja); Kannon (Avalokiteśvara)


Thousand-Armed Kannon (Sahasrabhūja); Kannon (Avalokiteśvara)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Heian period, 12th century

Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk; Lacquered wood with gold leaf

H 93.8, W 39.5; H 53.0



This statue is well-known as one of the rarest examples of wooden statues in which an independent Buddhist painting was contained. Although several parts are damaged and missing, this statue is recognized as Jūichimen Senju-kannon (Sahasra-bhuja) and the date of production is considered to be the late Heian period. The painting may have been made slightly earlier than that. Although the size is small, the painting shows a dignified Buddhist figure with a decorated canopy and a seat. The contrast of red and green is a key-note of the coloring, and various colors and gold and silver foils are finely arranged. Depiction is not accurate, and a gentle air can be sensed in this picture. The arms, which are arranged as if they were part of the halo, modify the unfamiliar appearance of the figure. Among Kannon’s belongings, most the weapons are omitted probably by intention, and the bowl is represented as a lacquered bowl. These aspects indicate that some court noble worshipped it privately.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.57, no.40.

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