Attendant Female

  • Hakuho to Nara periods
  • 7-8c
  • Gilt cast bronze
  • H-10.1 D-8 W-4.5
Catalogue Entry

Buddha: Late Heian period, 12th century
Gilt cast bronze
Figure height, 19.0cm
Attendant: Nara period, 7th to 8th centuries
Gilt cast bronze
Figure height, 10.1cm

The Jataka Tales recounting the achievements of the Buddha's life and their various topics have long appeared in Buddhist art, reflecting generations of devout belief in Shaka (S⇔akyamuni). The Gankoji Garan'engi narabini Rukishizaicho states that the first Buddhist image to be brought to Japan by the king Seimeio of Paekche in 538 was an image of the infant Buddha, and this document also indicates that the Kanbutsue ceremony honoring the birth of the Buddha was already being celebrated in Japan in 606 (Suiko 14).

The present images of the infant Shaka and one of the women attendants to his mother Maya show Shaka taking seven steps immediately after his birth, and then standing with one hand pointing to heaven and one to the earth, stating, "I am the sole deity in heaven and on earth." These two images were not originally a pair.

The entire figure of the young Shaka is cast in a single cast, including the head, the body, the lotus pad area, and the tenon. While the formative method is an antique style, the style of the robe that extends to below his feet, the knotted hip cord at his right hip, and the drapery froms that flow from that knot area to the base of his left foot are not seen in the antique periods of this style of sculpture and would rather indicate a production date of the Heian period. On the oher hand, the head and body of the attendant female are a single cast, and the simple construction and style of the figure is an antique manner that would indicate a production date ranging from the Hakuho period to the Nara period.
The bronze kanbutsu basin that currently accompanies these figures is not original to these works and can be suggested to date from the Muromachi period. The basin has a carved inscription on the interior base reading " Tokondo." KH

Infant Buddha