- [ 翻譯此頁 ]Yakushi-ji (薬師寺) is one of the most famous imperial and ancient Buddhist temples in Japan, located in Nara. The temple is the headquarters of the Hossō ...
1,000-year-old statue uncovered
BY AYA NARIKAWA STAFF WRITER
The 11-headed Bodhisattva before the paper was removed (Provided by Yakushiji temple)Restored Sho-Kannon Bodhisattva (Takuya Isayama)
NARA--Repair work on a Buddhist statue at Yakushiji temple has uncovered a 1,000-year-old treasure, temple officials said.
The 53-centimeter-tall statue of "Juichimen Kannon," or an 11-headed Bodhisattva of compassion, was believed to date from the mid-Edo Period (1603-1867). But researchers found that it was created by using paper that covered--and concealed--another statue from the mid-Heian Period (794-1185), the officials said Monday.
The statue had long been stored in the temple's treasure house in this ancient capital city with its arms and other parts broken apart.
After the statue was sent for repairs in 2007, the old "washi" paper covering the statue was removed, and another image emerged with quite a different head shape, and only one head.
Examinations at the Nara National Museum and at Bijyutsuin (Laboratory for Conservation of National Treasures of Japan) showed that the inside statue, made of Japanese cypress, was of another Bodhisattva of compassion, known as "Sho-Kannon."
The inside statue's features, including its waist, which is twisted a bit to the left, were common among Heian Period statues, researchers said.
They said covering Buddhist images with paper was often done during the Edo Period to add color, but that it was very rare for a different, older statue to be found inside.
"They may have turned an old Buddhist image into a new one for worship, in the same way that they used old building materials to construct a new building," said Yoshihiro Suzuki, a researcher at the museum. "It probably was a fashion of the times or an individual's own preference that a different statue was created."
The restored Sho-Kannon image will be on display at a special exhibition of Yakushiji's cultural properties at the temple's Tokyo branch in the Gotanda area from Feb. 26 to March 6.
The exhibition is supported by The Asahi Shimbun.