East Asia, Japan, Meiji Period, ca. 1880 CE. A finely carved wooden zushi (a small Buddhist shrine) portraying a seated Buddha in a meditative pose with a layer of 30% gold adorning the elaborate mandorla, interior walls and doors, and pedestal. Buddha's face is peaceful and he is dressed in flowing robes, seated on a lotus throne which is in turn placed upon an intricately carved pedestal. The level of detail on this piece is very impressive. Buddhist statues in Japan frequently reside in zushi, wooden shrines with doors that can both reveal or conceal the deity within. Some scholars trace this Japanese interpretation of a Buddhist practice to Shinto shrines, where it is rare to find a statue and they are always concealed. Size (shrine): 4.15" W x 9.75" H (10.5 cm x 24.8 cm); (interior figure w/ base): 3.25" W x 7.8" H (8.3 cm x 19.8 cm) Gold quality: 30%, equivalent < 8K.
At the start of the Meiji Period (1868), the Japanese government declared that Buddhism must be separated from Shinto, the official state religion. Initially, enforcement of the separation was strict, and Buddhist images were stricken from many Shinto shrines. Within a few years, however, enforcement stopped and Buddhist images crept back into Japanese religious art. A shrine like this one, depicting a Buddha was created during this time period.
Provenance: private New Jersey, USA collection
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Nicks and abrasions to exterior, interior surfaces, and figure, with small chip to base periphery, and minor darkening to exterior pigment, otherwise intact and very good. Nice detailing to figure.