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Seated Nyoirin Kannon, c. 1230–50


Kannon is the Japanese name for the Indian Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Because of the boundless love he offered to all beings, this was the most popular of all the Buddhist deities throughout Asia. The Nyoirin Kannon, a prominent deity in the Japanese Esoteric Buddhist pantheon, is one of the six “changed forms” of the bodhisattva Kannon especially associated with the granting of desires. The word nyo-i refers to the cintamani, the wish-granting jewel; the term rin, which means “wheel,” refers to the turning of the wheel of the law. The Nyoirin Kannon was widely worshiped by those who hoped to gain riches and see their requests fulfilled.

This gracious image shows the deity seated in a pose of royal ease. Although drawings frequently depict this god as a bodhisattva with two arms, the six-armed form was also popular in Japan. As in this sculpture, one hand is often shown touching the cheek, with a left arm braced against the lotus pedestal (now missing). Of the other four arms, one of the right hands holds the jewel, and one of the left hands holds a lotus. The raised left arm would originally have had a wheel balanced on the upright finger, and the lowered right arm would have held a rosary.



(Harry Packard, Kyoto);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1985.