Heian period (794–1185)
Wood with traces of gilding and color
H. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm); W. 6 in. (15.2 cm); D. 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)
Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry Collection, Bequest of Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry, 2000
The frontal pose and flattened drapery are evocative of Shō Kannon’s status as the principal incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Produced during the late Heian period in Japan, when wood was a strongly favored medium for devotional figures, this work would have been part of a sculptural ensemble. The figure’s raised fist once probably held a lotus flower, now lost. Traces of pigment on the body and garment suggest that the surface would have been entirely painted.
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