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Gallery Text

Each of the sculptures in this case could easily be cradled in the palm of one hand. These personal deities (jibutsu) are intended for private worship or to be carried on the person for protection. The painted faces of the Eleven-Headed Kannon and the monk-bodhisattva Jizō (second and third from left), deities who come to the aid of those who call upon them, have been worn away, probably as a result of handling long before they were placed within the sculpture of Prince Shōtoku. The presence of not one but two images of Kannon may be related to the belief that Shōtoku Taishi was an earthly manifestation of this compassionate bodhisattva.

Two of the sculptures—the other Eleven-Headed Kannon and the Wisdom King Aizen Myōō—are protected within individual shrines. The reddish wood used for the miniature sculpture of Kannon evokes the texture and color of aromatic sandalwood native to India, the Buddha’s homeland, which did not grow in Japan. The fierce, multi-armed Aizen Myōō resides in a portable circular shrine, memorably described by collector Ellery Sedgwick as his "walnut kingdom."

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Small Image of Eleven-Headed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Japanese: Jūichimen Kannon) in a Cylindrical Shrine
Other Titles
Transliterated Title: Jūichimen Kannon (Avalokitesvara)
Work Type
figurine, sculpture
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Wood; deep blue pigment applied to the background and to the inside of the shrine cover; blue pigment applied to the head
H. 4.1 cm (1 5/8 in.)
[Yamanaka Shoji Co., Ltd, Awata Kyoto (1936)], sold; to Ellery Sedgwick, Beverly, MA, (1936-1960), passed; to his wife, Marjorie Russell, Beverly, MA (1960-1971), inherited; by Ellery Sedgwick, Jr., Gates Mills, Ohio, (1971-1991), inherited; by Walter Sedgwick, Woodside, CA, (1991-2019), partial and promised gift; to the Harvard Art Museums.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
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.
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

John M. Rosenfield, The Sedgwick Statue of the Infant Shotoku Taishi, Archives of Asian Art (1968-1969), Vol. XXII / pp. 56-79, Fig. 34 (far right) / p. 75 (Item S.5 / p. 74)

Exhibition History

Later Chinese and Japanese Figure Painting in Decorative Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1992 - 06/07/1992

Paragons of Wisdom and Virtue: East Asian Figure Painting, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1997 - 09/21/1997

Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/25/2019 - 08/11/2019

Related Works

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