Dainichi Nyorai Buddha
Japanese Japan, Late Heian, Dainichi Nyorai Buddha, ca. 1150, Cryptomeria wood; 294.6 x 212.1 x 165.1 cm (116 x 83 1/2 x 65 inches), Museum Appropriation Fund 36.015
This very large image of Dainichi Nyorai (the supreme Buddha of Mahayana Buddhism as taught by the Shingon sect) represents the transcendent Buddha from whom all other buddhas and all aspects of the universe emanate. The sculpture shows him as an Indian prince in a pose similar to traditional painted depictions, in which he sat at the center of a mandala (cosmic diagram) surrounded by other buddhas and attendants. This meditating Dainichi was the focus of worship in a temple hall. Visitors prayed, made offerings, lit incense sticks, chanted, and performed rituals particular to the Shingon sect. The symbolic gesture of the Buddha’s hands indicates pure meditation and the attainment of spiritual perfection.