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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 Rãgavidyiarãja (Japanese: Aizen Myōō) in a Circular Shrine
Other Titles
Transliterated Title: Aizen Myōō
Work Type
sculpture, figurine
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Wood; cinnabar-red pigment applied to the background; bow-and-arrow of thin metal wire
Dia. 3.2 cm (1 1/4 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.