The Amida Buddha in Context

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The Amida Buddha in Context
The Buddha was and is an important figure in several different cultures, and his influence has spread over large areas. Across these different cultures, many forms of art portrayed him in different ways. In Japan, one of the Buddha’s titles stood out as the “Amida Buddha.” The statue that this paper will be detailing portrays “Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light” (“Amida”). The statue is located in the Dayton Art Institute’s Japanese Art Gallery 105 with the acquisition number 1935.1. Created in the thirteenth century during the Kamakura period, this statue stands out in the Dayton Art Institute as a prominent Buddha figure. It is made of wood with lacquer and gilt, and it was built to be approximately the size of a normal person.
The statue that will be the focus of this paper portrays the figure “Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light.” Like many other statues of the Buddha, this Amida Buddha was portrayed to be deep in meditation, sitting cross-legged. A viewer could observe that the Amida Buddha is making a hand gesture while in deep meditation. These gestures, also known as “mudras,” are symbolic in the Buddhist religion, and they are used to convey certain ideas (O’Riley 70). In this case, the Amida Buddha is making the mudra of appeasement (“Amida”). More physical observations could be made by pointing out the “balanced form, divine features, and flowing drapery” (“Amida”) of the Amida Buddha. Those qualities represent the nature of the Buddha, revealing him as “transcendent, graceful, and compassionate” (“Amida”). Features common to other Buddha sculptures show up on this Amida Buddha, like the elongated earlobes, the mole on his forehead, and patterned hair. At first glance, the Am...

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...e Amida Buddha’s name is recited over and over again in a chant, whether silently or aloud, so that the individual may focus on the Amida Buddha and nothing else (Cleary). This sculpture is meant to portray the Amida Buddha that presides over the Pure Land, and it is a reaction to the Pure Land Buddhism’s popularity (“Amida”).
The process by which this particular statue was created involved using a method developed by Kaikei, a Japanese sculptor. It was a groundbreaking process that involved carving different pieces of wood separately and then joining them together (“Amida”). Instead of using a single object for creating a sculpture, multiple parts could be used to make the statue easier to construct and put together. After the parts were all joined together, the statue was covered in a lacquer finish and gilt was added to the face to give it the golden look.
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