Japan, 18th century, Edo period (1615-1868)
Finely carved, Amida seated in dhyanasana atop a multi-tiered circular base with lotus and foliate designs, resting his hands in mida no jouin (dhyana mudra). He is wearing a loose-fitting monastic robe opening at the chest and cascading in voluminous folds. His serene face with heavy-lidded downcast eyes below gently arching brows, centered by a circular rock crystal byakugo (urna) flanked by long pendulous lobes, his hair arranged in tight curls over the domed ushnisha with a further hard stone inlay.
HEIGHT 25.5 cm (excl. base), 39 cm (incl. base)
Condition: Good condition with minor wear, some old touch-ups, expected age cracks, light flaking, small chips, and losses to the gilding.
With an associated gilt-lacquer wood base.
The sculpture represents Amitabha, known in Japanese as Amida Nyorai, or the Buddha of Limitless Light. Amitabha reigns over the Western Pure Land, a paradise to which anyone is welcomed if they faithfully and sincerely incant his name. This place of salvation became central to the Jodo [lit. Pure Land] sect of Buddhism. Propounded in 1175 by the monk Honen, the accessibility of such tenets of redemption allowed this form of Buddhism to proliferate across the nation and feudal classes of Japan. Often depicted with an elaborate mandala, the boat-shaped halo is said to remind his followers that he serves as a guide for them to cross the ocean of suffering which contaminates the living.
Compare a related lacquered wood figure of Amida, dated to the Edo period, at Christie’s, Japanese and Korean Art, 18 March 2008, New York, lot 189 (sold for USD 7,500).
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