The Botany of a Buddhist Sculpture: Hinoki Cypress and Prince Shōtoku at Age Two

April 8, 2021
Objects conservator Angela Chang examines one of the museums’ best-known residents, Prince Shōtoku at Age Two (c. 1292).

In this Art Talk, get a close-up view of one of the museums’ best-known residents, Prince Shōtoku at Age Two (c. 1292). In the 1930s, the sculpture was found to contain a group of relic-like objects, perfectly preserved thanks to the remarkable qualities of the hinoki cypress wood from which the sculpture is made. Conservator Angela Chang, horticulturist Stephen Schneider, and curator Rachel Saunders offer their unique perspectives on Prince Shōtoku and the ongoing collaborative research into this extraordinary sculpture.

Presented in partnership with the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Discover more about the individual objects found within the Prince Shōtoku sculpture in this digital tool, which draws on recent research and conservation efforts. 

Led by:
Stephen W. Schneider, Director of Operations, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Angela Chang, Assistant Director, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture, and Head of the Objects Laboratory, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums

Rachel Saunders, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Curator of Asian Art, Harvard Art Museums

Work explored:
Prince Shōtoku at Age Two, Japanese, Kamakura period, c. 1292. Wood (hinoki cypress) with polychromy; inlaid rock crystal (quartz) eyes. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial and promised gift of Walter C. Sedgwick in memory of Ellery Sedgwick Sr. and Ellery Sedgwick Jr., 2019.122.