Flying Apsaras (Hiten)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 224

Apsaras, or hiten in Japanese, are flying celestial beings that accompany Buddhas. These two examples, which display apsaras riding clouds and playing musical instruments, are believed to be part of a group of twelve or fourteen that formerly adorned the mandorla of an eighty-foot-tall statue of Amida at Jōruriji, a Pure Land sect temple in Kyoto. Although the disks and flying sashes are later additions, the apsaras themselves, carved in high relief in Japanese cypress and gilt, are dated to the turn of the twelfth century, when the Amida statue was installed. These apsaras once belonged to the politician Koizumi Sakutarō (1872–1937) and then were separated for many years until they were reunited by Mrs. Burke, who acquired them separately in 1987 and 1992.

Flying Apsaras (Hiten), Japanese cypress with lacquer and gold, Japan

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