Stone depiction of six Jizo Bosatsu figures standing in a row, the hands forming various mudra. Early-Edo Period ca. 1650, possibly earlier. Very minor old loss, with softening of the lines and contours of the Jizo figures. Excellent lichen accumulation.
Height: 45 cm
Width: 43 cm
Depth: 18 cm.
According to the Buddhist narrative, Jizo Bosatsu was entrusted by the historical Buddha with saving all sentient beings during the 5.76 billion years between the time of the historical Buddha's death and the arrival of Miroku, the Buddha of the future. The concept of six Jizo is rooted in the Buddhist idea that all sentient beings plod toward enlightenment through six realms of transmigratory existence, i.e., Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity, and Heaven. Responsible for safeguarding the passage of all beings through these six realms, Jizo is symbolically construed in six manifestations, one for each of the six realms.
The three most commonly encountered configurations of 6-Jizo depictions are (1) six separate stones on each of which is sculpted a single Jizo figure, (2) two separate stones on each of which are sculpted three Jizo figures, and (3) a single stone on which are sculpted six Jizo figures, as in the example offered herein.
The rounded projection on the bottom surface served to facilitate central and stable placement upon the dais with which this piece was originally paired.
With stylized pediment overhead and deeply incised lotus blossom underfoot, and boasting significant age and laudable condition, an outstanding six-Jizo stone.