This figure, still not firmly identified, is in the form of a bodhisattva, or perfected being. It was probably one of a group of attendant sculptures associated with an image of the Amida Buddha (the Buddha of the Western Paradise), one of four directional Buddhas. Amida Buddha is the principal devotional figure in the practice of Pure Land Buddhism, which came to prominence during the Heian period in Japan (794–1185). This figure is seated in a lotus position with hands raised to chest height. The pose, while generally indicating meditation, is unusual and may be the result of a later repair that positioned the hands further apart than usual. Covered in gold leaf, the figure would have glowed in the dimness of a Buddhist temple as if lit with an inner light.
Wood with lacquer and gold leaf
H. 32 ½ in. (82.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 69.136