Bodhisattva Statues Wearing Jōhaku or Not: A Clue for Consideration of the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple– the 6th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

The seminar

 Buddha statues wear various clothes. These include Jōhaku (a scarf-like band of cloth), which Bodhisattva and Vidyaraja statues wear crossing their upper bodies; however, research on jōhaku itself is insufficient.

 KUROSAKI Natsuo, Associate Fellow of the Department, conducted her presentation titled Bodhisattva Statues Wearing Jōhaku or Not: A Clue for Consideration of the Yakushi Triad Enshrined in the Kondo of the Yakushiji Temple on November 28th, 2022.

 The Yakushi Triad (consisting of Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha, flanked by two attendants, the Bodhisattvas Nikko (Sūryaprabha) and Gakko (Candraprabha)) enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of the Yakushiji Temple in Nara Prefecture is one of the objects representing Buddha statues of Japan. Despite this fact, there is a lack of consensus on where and when it was constructed: at the Yakushiji Temple of Fujiwara-kyō at the end of the 7th Century or newly molded in Heijō-kyō after the Yakushiji Temple was moved there at the beginning of the 8th Century.

 The Bodhisattva images of the Buddhist Mural Paintings of the Kondo of the Horyuji Temple, the Hokeiji Stone Images of Buddha, and the others were constructed around a similar period of the Yakushi Triad and are depicted wearing jōhaku. However, the Bodhisattvas statues of the Yakushi Triad do not wear jōhaku. This fact deserves attention because such characteristics could be used to identify these statues’ construction background and time. In this presentation, I overviewed in terms of whether wearing jōhaku, the objects of Bodhisattva images of senbutsu (a Buddhist image carved on a clay surface via a middle-relief technique and then fired) made in Japan and China in the 7th Century and Bodhisattva images enshrined in grottoes in China. The upper bodies of the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu that are made in China are naked, which is recognized as Indian style. In contrast, the Bodhisattva images of senbutsu made in Japan during a similar age as the Yakushiji Triad wear jōhaku. The Bodhisattvas of the Yakushiji Triad have the older forms. The next challenge will be to deepen this consideration from the historical and ideological viewpoints on its background.

 The seminar was held online so that some specialists outside of TOBUNKEN in Buddhist art history could also participate. In the following Q&A session, active discussions were held from various viewpoints, including jōhaku, Japanese Buddhist monks visiting the Tang Empire, the international situation in the latter 7th Century, and the relationship with other objects of the same age. This occasion revealed precious opinions that will further my research, and where we shared the significance of the issue of the Yakushiji Triad.

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