Stone Dosojin comprising two human figures standing side by side in a semi-embrace, sculpted in relief from tuff, an igneous stone composed largely of volcanic ash. Clearly dated on the side to the seventh year of the Tenpo Era (1836), late-Edo Period. Minor old loss. Excellent lichen accumulation.
Height: 43.5 cm
Width: 36 cm
Depth: 18 cm.
Dosojin is the Japanese Shinto manifestation of a Chinese Taoist deity believed to guard the border between this world and hell. Charged with obstructing the passage of evil spirits and gods of disease into human communities, Dosojin stones were traditionally placed on roadsides and mountain passes as well as at crossroads and village boundaries.
Early Dosojin examples typically feature either two Jizo Bosatsu figures--Dosojin's honjibutsu, or Buddhist counterpart, being Jizo Bosatsu--or, less often, two Amida Buddha figures standing or seated side by side. By the mid-Edo Period ca. 1725, Dosojin is most commonly depicted in the form of two figures, traditionally construed as a heterosexual couple, standing or seated side by side and typically displaying some form of physical affection. The piece on offer herein is a perfectly representative example of this more recent Dosojin style.
Talismanic as opposed to memorial in function, Dosojin stones have long been sought out by collectors in Japan and as a result are no longer readily available in the market. A highly collectible piece.