Stone depiction of six Jizo Bosatsu figures standing in a row, each with hands forming the gassho adoration mudra. Mid-Edo Period ca. 1750. Minor old loss and softening of the lines and contours overall, with traces of polychrome.
Height: 29 cm
Width: 34 cm
Depth: 15 cm.
According to Buddhist belief, Jizo Bosatsu was entrusted by the historical Buddha with saving all sentient beings during the 5.76 billion years between the time of the 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 six-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. This particular six-Jizo style, with the Jizo figures aligned neatly in a row underneath an overarching pediment, is most commonly encountered in the region centering on Yamanashi Prefecture, approximately 100 km due west of Tokyo.
A charming six-Jizo stone, examples of which are no longer readily available in the market.