Buddha Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai)
Unknown artist, Japanese, Japan
Buddha Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai), ca. 1150-1200
294.6 x 212.1 x 165.1 cm (116 x 83 1/2 x 65 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 36.015
This sculpture was originally the main figure of worship in a temple, surrounded by other Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and guardian figures. Visitors would have come to pray or attend rituals and sutra readings performed by monks. The RISD Museum acquired the statue in the 1930s. Records state it was the principal image of Rokuon-ji, a Shingon sub-temple in Hyogo Prefecture, along Japan’s Inland Sea. Legend has it that the temple was destroyed by fire hundreds of years ago but that the statue was stored in a nearby farmhouse until 1933, when it was brought to the U.S. by the Japanese art dealer Yamanaka. The largest wooden Japanese sculpture in the United States, it was constructed from 11 hollowed and carved pieces of wood. Its simple surfaces and serene expression are representative of the late Heian Period.
Dainichi, or “great sun” in Japanese, is the generative force of all creation, from whom other Buddhas emanate. In a mandala or cosmic diagram, he is the central figure, surrounded by other Buddhas and attendants, identifiable by his high crown and dhyana mudra gesture, in which the tips of his thumbs touch.
Edited ByWoolsey, Ann, ed.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2008
TypeMonographs and CollectionsA Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Edited ByWoodward, Carla M., and Franklin W. Robinson, eds.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988
TypeMonographs and Collections