Bodhisattva Kannon


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 224

This pair of bodhisattvas (2006.437a–e and .438a–e) was originally part of a sculptural group centering on Amida Buddha (Sanskrit: Amitabha), who presides over the Western Paradise. Seishi (Sanskrit: Mahasthamaprapta), who holds his hands in the gesture of adoration, once stood to Buddha’s right. His companion, Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara), typically would have held a small lotus pedestal representing a throne for the deceased soul. The bodhisattvas have small, gentle faces with fleshy features and plump bodies that contribute to an androgynous impression. A sense of deep devotion is expressed in their slightly bent backs. Both wear long, flowing skirts that reach their dainty feet in rippling folds and scarves that partially cover their shoulders and fall to their legs. The large mandorlas (halos) that must have once shielded the deities’ backs are lost.

Bodhisattva Kannon, Wood with lacquer, gold leaf, cut gold leaf (kirikane), and metal, Japan

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