Japanese and Chinese antiques and art from B & C
Early Gilt Wood Figure of Amida Buddha, Edo

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Devotional Objects: Pre 1800: item # 278213

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B & C   Antiques
P. O. Box 291
Derby, CT 06418

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$3,500 ON HOLD

Early Gilt Wood Figure of Amida Buddha, Edo
This large and important gilt wood figure of Amida Nyorai, the guide to Western Paradise, dates to the mid-Edo period, 18th century. The figure is standing on a tiered gilt lotus base with his left foot slightly forward. His right hand is raised and the left hand lowered in the gesture known as “raigo-in” (welcoming to paradise), with both palms turned outward, the thumb and index finger on each hand forming a circle. The figure is clad in a gold leaf robe which is softly folded and draped over both shoulders, exposing a dark bare chest. Traces of gilt remain on his serene face, with its lowered eyes and compassionate gaze. There is a natural inlaid crystal in the “urna” between the Buddha’s eyebrows and another crystal in the “ushnisha” (protruberance of wisdom) inlaid in the carved curled coiffure on the crown of the figure’s head.

This image is made in the ancient technique known as “yosegi-zukuri” (joined wood construction). The statue was composed of many partly hollow blocks of wood (hinoki cypress) that were carved and assembled into one piece based on calculated ratios. The detailed figure was then carved from the block composite, painted with black lacquer and finally covered in gold leaf. In addition to being lighter than figures carved from one solid piece of wood, this technique made the statues less prone to cracking and splitting as the wood dried.

Amida, which means “Infinite Light” or “Infinite Life,” is one of the loftiest savior figures in Japanese Buddhism, and the Amida faith is concerned primarily with the life to come. Amida Nyorai, who presides over the Great Western Paradise, vowed that whoever calls his name with faith shall be reborn in a paradise called the Pure Land. When a Buddhist dies, it is believed that Amida descends from his paradise to lead the faithful back to the Pure Land. Condition is very good considering the age of this piece. There are gold leaf losses, which are to be expected on early statues of this type. It is fairly common to find early wood Buddha figures with their hands removed, but this figure retains both his hands, although they do appear to have been rejoined to the body. There is also some loss to the tips of two petals on the tiered gilt lotus dais. Dimensions: 16” high, 6” x 4 ¾” at base.

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