Welcoming Descent of Jizō
early 14th century
Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold, and cut gold on silk
42 x 16 1/2 in. (106.7 x 41.9 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1925
Among the many iconographies of the bodhisattva Jizō (Sanskrit: Kshitigarbha) that originated in the Kamakura period is the “welcoming descent,” or raigō. This painting depicts Jizō in the guise of a monk carrying a wish-fulfilling jewel and a golden staff as he descends to earth on a cloud to rescue a suffering believer. Images of salvation such as this one are more commonly associated with the Buddha Amida (Sanskrit: Amitabha), who escorts the dead to his Western Pure Land with twenty-five bodhisattvas, including Jizō. Images of the welcoming descent of Jizō may be related to the important Kasuga Shrine in the former capital of Nara, where Jizō is one of the primary Buddhist deities of worship.
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