Boddhisattva Manjusuri auf Löwen (shishi) reitend | unbekannt | 17. Jh.

Boddhisattva Manjusuri riding on lions (shishi) | unknown | 17th century

This sculpture is unique in its perfect state of preservation. The Bodhisattva and the lion were designed and executed together, so that not only original but also ideal proportions can be admired. The deity and the mythical lion differ significantly in terms of color and style - the gilded Bodhisattva has an (idealized) human face, while the lion follows a formulaic representation tradition, because the sculptor had certainly never seen a lion in his life. Well, it is not even necessary for the lion to be depicted realistically, because it is the mythical mount shishi. Shishi folklore is widespread throughout Asia and has also been popular in Japanese tradition since ancient times. There are lion dances that were introduced to Japan in the 8th century and are still performed today (for example in the Shitennōji Temple in Osaka).

The rider of the shishi is Boddhisattva Manjusuri (Japanese: Monjū Bosatsu). He is one of the oldest deities in Buddhism. In Japan, he also became the god of medicine over time; however, since ancient times he has been the supreme god of wisdom. He has a sword in his right hand (which should actually be flaming), which indicates that he has reached the highest level of wisdom. In his left hand he holds the scroll of the Prajñāpāramitā Sutra (in Japanese: Hannya shingyo, the Heart Sutra), which in this figure has been reduced to a small stick.

The Boddhisattva has a rich, delicate headdress that indicates that, as a saint, he still feels connected to the world. He is still a magnificent Indian prince, but he has renounced the final stage of being an enlightened being because he is touched by the suffering and problems of people - he has not yet turned away from them. So you can also worship him and hope for good things from him, as in Christianity with a prayer to a saint. This circumstance is probably also the reason why Monjū Bosatsu is not only a saint of the abstract idea of ​​all-encompassing wisdom, but also became a god of healing over time. Sick people can pray to him and expect a concrete healing.

Dimensions: 42cm x 62cm | Material: wood, painted, gold-plated

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