Votive Shrine with Image of Bodhisattva Kannon

Japanese (Japanese)
18th century
Lacquered wood, pigments
: 19 x 7 x 5 1/2 in. (48.26 x 17.78 x 13.97 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
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Small portable shrines like this were used for worship in private households as well as temples. The shrines could be moved around as needed, and could be closed up and stored when not in use. The figure inside this shrine is the bodhisattva Kannon. Bodhisattvas are Buddhist saints who have achieved enlightenment and have vowed to save all sentient beings from the cycle of rebirth. Because bodhisattvas are perfected beings who transcend gender, they can appear in both male and female forms and are often portrayed as serenely androgynous. Here Kannon is shown holding a vase, which symbolizes a wish for peace based on the similar pronunciation of the words for “vase” and “peace” in the Chinese language.

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