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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
2019.122.1
Title
Small Image of Vaisravana (Japanese: Bishamonten)
Other Titles
Transliterated Title: Bishamonten
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture, figurine
Date
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Period
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Culture
Japanese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/200060
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Camphor wood, unpainted except for red pigment on lips and black on eyes
Dimensions
H. 6.3 cm (2 1/2 in.)
Provenance
[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
2019.122.1
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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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 (2nd from left) / p. 75 (Item S.1 / 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

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu