Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Jizō Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)

Period:
Kamakura period (1185–1333)
Date:
second half of the 13th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Wood with lacquer, color, and gold leaf
Dimensions:
H. 45 3/4 in. (116.2 cm); W. 24 1/8 in. (61.3 cm); D. 23 7/8 in. (60.6 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.268.166a–d
Not on view
Represented in the guise of a Buddhist monk and devoid of the crown and jewels customarily worn by bodhisattvas, Jizō Bosatsu is among the most readily recognizable of the many deities in the Buddhist pantheon and perhaps the most sympathetic. Called Ksitigarbha ("Earth Womb") in Sanskrit, his worship originated in Central Asia. It reached Japan in the eighth century but flourished during the Kamakura period in connection with the Pure Land sects. Although Jizō is invoked for many roles—as protector of travelers, of children, and of women in childbirth—he was especially venerated for his intervention on behalf of those suffering in hell, the lowest of the Six Realms of Existence. He is portrayed as a monk with an open, compassionate expression ready to hear the call of the suffering. In his hand is a traveler's staff, its six rings a symbol of the extent of his mercy through all realms of being, and its clinking sound a signal of his foot's fall lest he harm even the smallest creature.

This serenely graceful figure exemplifies the idealistic sculptural style that was often employed to convey the special ethos of Pure Land Buddhism: Jizō's warm, truthful facial features give him a compassionate expression that invites faith, which, in turn, will lead to salvation. His gently flowing robe, with its finely crafted gold-leaf designs, enhances the impression of elegant refinement.
Related Objects

Six of the Twelve Divine Generals (Jūni shinshō)

Date: 14th century Medium: Wood with lacquer, color, gold, and inlaid crystal eyes Accession: 2015.300.254a–f On view in:Gallery 224

Guardian Lion-Dogs

Date: mid-13th century Medium: Japanese cypress with lacquer, gold leaf, and color Accession: 2015.300.257a, b On view in:Gallery 223

Attendant Bodhisattva Kannon

Date: late 12th–13th century Medium: Wood, gold paint, gold leaf with lacquer, and inlaid crystal eyes Accession: 12.134.17 On view in:Gallery 224

Jizō Bosatsu

Date: late 12th–mid-13th century Medium: Wood with lacquer, gold leaf, cutout gold foil decoration, and color Accession: 18.93 On view in:Gallery 224

Eleven-Headed Kannon

Medium: Wood with lacquer, gold leaf, and metal decoration Accession: 1975.268.167 On view in:Gallery 224