This is a Jizo (Jizo Bosatsu) one of the most beloved and revered Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism.
It measures 12.5" high by 6.75" wide by 4.25". deep.The age of this piece is from the late Edo era (circa 1850 to 1860's) and it has lichen covering its surface.Jizo is the embodiment of the Bodhisattva Vow, the aspiration to save all beings from suffering. He is the protector of women, children, farmers and travelers in the six realms of existence.
The function of this great Bodhisattva is to guide travelers in both the physical and spiritual realms. In Japan, it is customary to place statues of Jizo at the intersections of roads and streets so that the correct path will be chosen. Jizo is often depicted as a child-monk, or as a pilgrim. He sometimes carries a staff with six jingling rings (called Shakujo) to announce his friendly approach to prevents harm to small animals and insects in his path. He is also often shown holding the Dharma Jewel (called Hoju) which is a calming light which banishes all fear.