Standing Bosatsu (Bodhisattva)

Kamakura period, 13th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

The name of this image is unknown since an identification mark, which is supposed to be at the front window of the crown, is missing. While its provenance is also unknown, the style is quite similar to that of Zenen, a sculptor of Buddhist images who created many Buddhist images for the temples in Nara during the Kamakura period. In particular, the method to insert the eyes made of crystal into the head is the same as that of the standing image of the eleven-headed Kannon Bodhisattva created by Zenen (possessed by the Nara National Museum). Moreover, since the design of the crown bears a striking resemblance to that of the standing Miroku Bodhisattva (Maitreya) image enshrined in the Honpo-jibutsudo of Kofukuji Temple, there is little doubt that this image was created around Nara. There are many similar images in Nara, which have been passed down as Miroku Bodhisattva images and this one also seems to be one of the vestiges of faith in Miroku that became prevalent in Nara during the Kamakura period. The year of creation is estimated to date back to the early thirteenth century. While the body is painted in gold, the kun (skirt) painted in red has a ground pattern (hemp leaf pattern) created using kirikane (a technique to cut metal leaf into strips or other shapes and paste them on a surface), on which a floral pattern is painted. Although the flowers have turned black now, they used to be painted in red gradation and the leaves were painted in blue gradation, on which the veins were represented by kirikane. The hem of the kun (skirt) is painted in lapis lazuli and has an exquisite kirikane lotus pattern. Coloring, gold painting and kirikane techniques are used to create the mokkomon (a decorative pattern shaped like a flower) in various sizes on the breechcloth, whereas the tenne (a long strip of cloth that drapes across the shoulders and hangs down on both sides of the figure) is painted on the front and back and then patterned using kirikane on the colored base. The initial clothing decoration must have been bright and colorful. The technique to place a colored pattern on the kirikane-patterned ground is often found on images created in Nara, which has been passing on the traditions of making Buddhist images since the Nara period and this image constitutes a typical example of such technique. Another noteworthy point about this image is that this is the only example remaining today where the lips are covered with crystal.


  • Title: Standing Bosatsu (Bodhisattva)
  • Date Created: Kamakura period, 13th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h1045 mm
  • Object Title: 菩薩立像
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 宝冠の正面の窓からのぞいていたはずの標幟(ひょうじ)を欠くので尊名が明らかにならず、伝来も不明であるが、作風が鎌倉時代に南都(なんと)諸寺院の造像に携わった仏師善円(ぜんえん)に近く、玉眼(ぎょくがん)をおさえる方法も善円作奈良国立博物館十一面観音菩薩立像と共通する。また、宝冠の意匠が興福寺本坊持仏堂(こうふくじほんぽうじぶつどう)弥勒菩薩立像のそれに酷似することからも、奈良周辺で造られたものとみてまず間違いない。奈良にはよく似た形式の像が、いずれも弥勒菩薩として伝来しており、この像も鎌倉時代に南都で流行した弥勒信仰の遺品と考えられる。製作は13世紀前半に遡るとみられる。 肉身を金泥塗り、裙の表は朱彩の上に截金の地文様(麻葉繋ぎ)をおき、主文は花文を彩色で描く。現在この花文は黒く変色しているが、葉は青系の、花は赤系の繧繝(うんげん)で彩り、葉脈などに截金をおく。裙の緑は群青色に截金で精妙な蓮華唐草を描く。腰布は彩色・金泥・截金を併用し、大小の木瓜文(もっこうもん)を連ね、天衣は表裏とも彩色地に截金文様をほどこす。当初の着衣の荘厳は、色鮮やかな彩色がまばゆいものであっただろう。截金の地文の上に彩色文様を散らす手法は、奈良時代以来の伝統を受け継いだ南都に多くみられ、その典型的な例である。なお、唇に水晶を嵌める現存唯一の作例であることも見逃せない
  • Object Date: 鎌倉時代・13世紀
  • Medium(Japanese): 木造、金泥塗・彩色・截金、玉眼、唇に水晶
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100419/000/000
  • Medium: Wood with gold pigment,polycromy,cut gold leaf and inlaid crystal eyes and lips

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