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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 Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha (Japanese: Jizō Bosatsu)
Other Titles
Transliterated Title: Jizō Bosatsu
Work Type
figurine, sculpture
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Wood; red pigment applied to the lower underskirt, earth-green pigment to the hair and back, and black to the eyes; wire halo
H. 7.1 cm (2 13/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[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 (center) / p. 75 (Item S.3 / p. 74)
  • Keizaburō Mizuno, ed., Nihon chōkokushi kiso shiryō shūsei (Compendium of the History of Japanese Sculpture), Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2019)
  • Rachel Saunders, “Hābādo Daigaku Bijutsukan shozō Shōtoku Taishi nisai zō ni komerareta imi” (Interpreting the Sculpture of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Zōkei no poetika: Nihon bijutsushi o meguru aratana chihei (The Poetics of Form: New Horizons in Japanese Art History), ed. Sano Midori Festschrift Committee, Seikansha (Tokyo, 2021), pp, 71-86
  • Rachel Saunders, Angela Chang, Penley Knipe, and H. Greg Lin, “Hābādo Bijutsukan shozō Namu Butsu Taishi zō: kyōdō kenkyū to sono seika” (When Art Meets Science: Interdisciplinary Research and Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Hābādo Bijutsukan Namu Butsu Taishi zō no kenkyū, Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2023), pp. 191-235
  • Mika Abé, Yasurō Abé, Kensuke Chikamoto, Rachel Saunders, Ai Seya, and Takayuki Seya, ed., Hābādo Bijutsukan Namu Butsu Taishi zō no kenkyū (The Sculpture of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two at the Harvard Art Museums), Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan (Tokyo, 2023)

Exhibition History

Related Works

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