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Shō Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion

Saichi1269

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Kannon has always been one of the most popularly worshipped bodhisattvas in Japan. Images of the deity vary greatly, for texts describe many different manifestations, each with specific powers. Some have many heads or ferocious guises, but Sho Kannon, with his benevolent expression and lotus attribute, is the most frequently encountered form of the deity. With its intricately cast mandorla, fluid drapery, and incised lotus petal pedestal, this is one of the finest bronze sculptures from thirteenth-century Japan. An inscription on the hexagonal base names the artist, Saichi, and indicates that the statue was donated to the main hall of Kongorin-ji, a temple in Shiga Prefecture, east of Kyoto.

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