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Small Figure of the Bodhisattva Sho Kannon (Avalokiteshvara)

Asian Art

This Sho Kannon image is from a hall that housed one thousand images at Kofuku-ji, a Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. The deities were believe to provide salvation through the recitation of their names, following an important Buddhist belief in the efficacious power in multiplicity and salvation.

The image is dressed in monk's robes with only a suggestion of drapery folds. The idealized reflective expression and relaxed posture indicate the aesthetic taste evident in other works commissioned by the Fujiwara clan, who were tutelary patrons of Kofuku-ji. It is thought that images, including this Kannon, were removed from Kofuku-ji at the end of the nineteenth century, although no documentation supports this.

MEDIUM Wood, gesso, and paint
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES ca. 1100
    PERIOD Heian Period
    DIMENSIONS 19 x 6 1/4 in. (48.3 x 15.9 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 05.104
    CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact reproductions@brooklynmuseum.org (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact copyright@brooklynmuseum.org.
    CAPTION Small Figure of the Bodhisattva Sho Kannon (Avalokiteshvara), ca. 1100. Wood, gesso, and paint, 19 x 6 1/4 in. (48.3 x 15.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 05.104. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 05.104_front_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 05.104_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Small figure of the Bodhisattva (Bosatsu) Bodhisat-Ratnapani, standing on a lotus pedestal. The figure holds the wonder-working jewel in the left hand. The right hand is raised in the abhaya mudra, the gesture which means "fearlessness or assurance". He wears a fillet around the base of his high chignon, sashes over the shoulders and across the chest, and a long skirt which reaches to the bare feet. The lotus pedestal rests on a three tiered base with scalloped edges. The figure and pedestal are separate pieces, with the figure tenoned into the base. Both are of light brown, finely grained wood, probably kiri or paulownia. They were once covered with polychrome applied over a foundation of white gesso. This has now nearly all worn off, leaving only occasional traces of red, green and white gesso. Where exposed, the wood has darkened. The long sashes hanging from the shoulders have been broken at the waist. The shoulders and arms, which are separate pieces of wood, are cracked. The surface of the wood is worn in many places and is also scratched. This statue came from the Kofukuji Temple in Nara and was presumably one of a great number of similar ones sold around the turn of the century by the temple in order to pay for certain repairs. It was the first identified as such by Mr. Langdon Warner of the Fogg Museum at a Collector's meeting of the Society for Japanese Studies in the winter of 1935-1936.
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     <em>Small Figure of the Bodhisattva Sho Kannon (Avalokiteshvara)</em>, ca. 1100. Wood, gesso, and paint, 19 x 6 1/4 in. (48.3 x 15.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, 05.104. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 05.104_front_PS9.jpg)