Amida (Amitabha) Triad and Two Priests Made by hammering copper plates


Amida (Amitabha) Triad and Two Priests Made by hammering copper plates


Asuka period, 7th century

Bronze repousse

縦39.0 横32.3


Important Cultural Property

This sculpture depicts the Buddha Amida flanked by the Bodhisattvas Kannon and Seishi, with the upper bodies of two praying priests visible in the gaps between the sacred beings. This sculpture was made by placing a thin copper plate onto a copper mold in relief, then carefully hammering the plate to transfer the image. The process is known in Japanese as oshidashibutsu, and it was often used in the manufacture of Buddhist sculpture in Japan between the mid-seventh and mid-eighth centuries. Because one mold could be used to create multiple sculptures, images made with this process were primarily used for private worship.
The Collection of Hōryūji Treasures includes 11 oshidashibutsu works, with this one showing the most sophisticated technique. During the hammering process, it was easy to end up with wrinkles or cracks in the copper, but this work has very few such defects, and each element was painstakingly expressed, including the detailed decoration in the halos. Although the copper is thin, the image creates a feeling of depth, and an incredible sense of softness can be felt in the facial expressions and layered garments of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. The copper has rusted, but this image was originally gilded, while the hair, eyebrows, mouths, and beards were painted in vivid colors. Also, the openings around the edge suggest that this work would have been affixed with nails to the inside of a zushi, or miniature shrine.

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