- Gallery Text
Crafted for Japanese Buddhist image halls of the Heian (794–1185) and Kamakura (1185–1333) periods, the objects in this case were once part of magnificent architectural and sculptural ensembles intended to render the Western Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha physically present in our earthly realm. To be reborn in the Western Pure Land guaranteed the attainment of awakening; the splendors of this distant land were evoked with gleaming, gilded sculptures of Amitabha and his heavenly entourage, including bodhisattvas and angel-like apsarases. Icons of Amitabha were further canopied with stylized flower garlands in gilt bronze.
This period saw the rise to prominence of wooden statuary, which came to surpass bronze as the main material for Japanese Buddhist sculptures thereafter. Placed within the magnificent settings of image halls, Buddhist sculptures themselves became increasingly decorative and included the extensive use of brilliant polychromy; cut-gold leaf patterning (called kirikane) in the drapery; and metal adornments for crowns, headdresses, and accessories. Despite the richness of their robes and settings, the idealized facial expressions of the figures are serene and introspective — characteristics that reflect the aesthetic ideals of the statues’ courtly patrons.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Virûdhaka (Zôchôten), Guardian King of the South, one of the Devarâjas (Shitennô), or Four Heavenly Guardian Kings
- Other Titles
- Transliterated Title: Shitennô (Devarâjas): Zôchôten (Virûdhaka)
- Work Type
- figure, sculpture
- Heian period, c. 1075
- Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
- Heian period, Late, 898-1185
- Physical Descriptions
- Wood with traces of polychromy and gilding
- H. 69.7 x W. 30.4 x D. 15.5 cm (27 7/16 x 11 15/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
- [James Freeman, Kyoto] sold; to Walter C. Sedgwick, Woodside, CA (by 1979), promised gift; to Harvard University Museums, 1979.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Promised gift of Walter C. Sedgwick in memory of Elizabeth Sedgwick and Marjorie Sedgwick
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- Publication History
Dorinda Neave, Lara Blanchard, and Marika Sardar, Asian Art, Pearson Education, Inc. (Boston, MA, 2015), p. 329, ill. 14-6
- Exhibition History
Later Chinese and Japanese Figure Painting in Decorative Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1992 - 06/07/1992
Japanese Art of the Heian Period (794-1185), Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 06/06/2002 - 07/05/2002
Fo32Q: 2740 Buddhist II, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014
- Subjects and Contexts
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