Buddha Amida

large statue of Buddha from a small temple in the Meguro neighbourhood of Tokyo, Banryuji

This large statue of the Amida Buddha comes from a small temple in the Meguro neighbourhood of Tōkyō, Banryūji, under the Jōdo Amidist Buddhist sect. An illustration in the Edo meisho zue (vol.7) helps us picture the Buddha in his environment during the Tempō Era (1830-1844). This temple was dedicated to teaching and was no longer necessary when a public school was founded in the early Meiji Era.

Cernuschi bought this statue, which was kept outside after a fire in the building where it was previously housed. The registers of the Zōjōji monastery mention a request made by two foreigners through a goods dealer to purchase this statue for 500 ryōs. The residents of the neighbourhood, if the report given by Théodore Duret in Travels to Asia is to be believed, were not supportive of this decision, he thinks, and tried to buy the monumental sculpture back from Cernuschi. In Travels to Asia,Duret also describes how the sculpture was carved into pieces before being sent to Paris. It was then remounted by the Barbedienne workshops and displayed at the Palace of Industry before being installed in the large hall on the first floor of the hotel on Vélasquez Avenue.

In 1983, the Buddha’s precise origins were identified. The statute predates its nimbus, which may have been a replacement of the original nimbus destroyed in the temple fire. The lotus-shaped pedestal and the nimbus bear inscriptions naming the donors; the nimbus indicates the names of Iseya Chōbei and Minamoto Masamitsu. The name of Minamoto Masamitsu is not listed in the rare works dedicated to the founders of the Edo Period. Iseya Chōbei was only a merchant. He supplied goods to Buddhist or Shinto temples in different regions of Japan during the Bunka-Bunsei and Hōreki eras.

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Notice's author : Musée Cernuschi