Three Jizo Bosatsu figures standing in a row, each with hands forming the gassho adoration mudra, sculpted in relief from a brown-hued igneous stone. Mid-Edo Period ca. 1700. Very minor old loss. Light lichen accumulation.
Height: 34 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 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 six-Jizo depictions are (1) six separate stones on each of which is sculpted a single Jizo figure, (2) a single stone on which are sculpted six Jizo figures, and (3) two separate stones on each of which are sculpted three Jizo figures, as in this example, which alone constitutes just one-half of a complete six-Jizo configuration.