Wooden statue of Shōtoku Taishi


British Museum

British Museum

The Prince Regent Shōtoku Taishi (574-622) was a skilled statesman and an early supporter of Buddhism. He attracted many legends; it was said that he could speak at birth, that he recited mantras (Buddhist prayers) as a child and performed acts of piety. He was worshipped as an emanation of the bodhisattva Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara). He is variously represented - as a child, as a young adult (praying for his father's recovery) and as the adult Prince.

This is known as a Namu Butsu ('Hail to the Buddha') representation, as a child reciting mantras. It has been popular since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). This imitates thirteenth-century examples.

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  • Title: Wooden statue of Shōtoku Taishi
  • Date Created: 1700/1799
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 28.80cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: politician/statesman
  • Registration number: 1944,1019.1
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: wood
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Turner, M H