Queen Maya and Heavenly Beings

Asuka period, 7th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

Lady Māyā, Gautama Buddha's mother, stopped by at Lumbini Park with her attendants on her way back home. She reached for one blooming branch of an ashoka tree there. At that very moment, from the right side of her body, Buddha was born. This legendary scene is depicted by these statues. Group statues of this theme are rare to find. The statues are thought to be the ones referred to as "one statue of Lady Māyā" and "three statues of female attendants and others" that were "part of the group statues of the birth of the Buddha" in the Index of Buddha Statues and Other Items of the Golden Hall of Hōryūji. The Lady Māyā is cast in one wax mold and is hollow from the bottom end to around the waist. Each of the first and the second celestial beings is also cast in one wax mold, with a heavenly garment made of bronze-plate riveted on it. Those three pieces are thought to be made in the Asuka period, as their features such as the long faces and the abstract patterns on the garments show some similarities to the gilt-bronze Buddha statues created by the Tori school. The third celestial being is not gold-plated, while its head, lower arms and body are cast separately and jointed together with the method called arihozo (an inverted-trapezoidal tenon and a trapezoidal recess fitting firmly). It was made in the Kamakura period, imitating the first celestial being.


  • Title: Queen Maya and Heavenly Beings
  • Date Created: Asuka period, 7th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h165 mm
  • Object Title: 摩耶夫人および天人像
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 釈迦の母摩耶夫人は故郷へ帰る途中に侍者とともに立ち寄ったルンビニー園で、花咲く無憂樹の枝を手折ろうとした。まさにその時、夫人の右腋下から釈迦が誕生する。この劇的な場面を立体彫刻であらわした、めずらしい群像である。法隆寺の『金堂仏像等目録』に「釈迦誕生像一具之中」としてあげられる「摩耶夫人一躰」「所従綵女等三躰」にあたるものとみられる。摩耶夫人は蠟型(ろうがた)の1鋳で、像底から腰辺までを空洞にする。天人1・2は蠟型一鋳の無垢(むく)で、銅板製の天衣(てんね)を鋲で留めている。以上の3軀は飛鳥時代の製作とみられ、面長の顔つきや抽象的な衣文などに、止利派の金銅仏と一脈通ずるものがある。天人3は頭部と両臂先を体部と別鋳にして、蟻柄(ありほぞ)状に接合するもので、表面に鍍金が認められない。天人1にならった鎌倉時代ごろの補作である。
  • Object Date: 飛鳥時代・7世紀
  • Medium(Japanese): 銅造鍍金
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100765
  • Medium: Gilt bronze

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