Zen Master Shinran Shonin Jodo Shinshu Meiji Hollow-Blocks Wood Shrine Statue
Antique Japanese Joined-Blocks Statue
Shinran Shonin 親鸞聖人
Founder Saint of Jodo Shinshu
Circa: 1868-1912, Meiji Period
H 10.5 in. (27cm), W 6.5 in. (16.5cm), D 6 in. (15cm)
Minor loss and aged condition!
Exquisitely carved from joined-block Japanese cypress, using a unique Japanese formula of gesso and seashell mixture, the realistic features and layered voluminous monk robe are meticulously detailed with the application of gofun (oyster shell lacquer), completed with a five-tiers lotus pedestal with layers of gold foil and black lacquer, created an effect reminiscent of gilt bronze sculpture of the grand old Zen Master Shinran Shonin 親鸞聖人. The unadorned figure is erect but in a relaxed cant, in his hands a string of prayer beads now missing, with eyes downcast in a serene and meditative stance, his lifelike features denote a spiritual presence, which outshines the formalism frequently found in similar carvings. In spite of its age, there is only a few flakes and minor yellowing from past incense rituals. In view of the warm and benevolent expression of Shinran’s realistic facial features, arrangements of the parallel pleats that framed the symmetry of the drapery, the age and condition of this Shinran is attributed to the late 19th century Meiji era; Such perfected technique and design can be traced back to one of Japan’s most highly acclaimed sculptor Unkei (1148 - 1223 AD) of the Kamakura period.
Shinran Shonin (1173–1262) was the founder of Jodo Shinshu 浄土真宗 "The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching". At the time when much of Buddhism in Asia had subscribed to a clear hierarchy that situated priests above laypeople. Shinran broke with tradition teaching Shin Buddhism’s radical egalitarianism, which did not consider lay life to be an impediment to religious attainment and allowed women to be fully ordained earlier than many other schools. It was a path that would eventually lead to the ongoing development of Buddhism in the West.