Historical period(s)
Late Heian period, late 12th century
Wood with gilding
H x W x D: 98 x 75 x 50.8 cm (38 9/16 x 29 1/2 x 20 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


abhaya mudra, bodhisattva, Buddhism, Japan, Late Heian (Fujiwara) period (897 - 1185), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Japanese sculptors of Buddhist images overwhelmingly preferred to work in wood. In this medium, they produced images ranging in size from monumental guardians for temple gateways to miniature devotional images for portable shrines. This wood sculpture represents a bodhisattva (enlightened being) who is seated on a lotus-shaped throne. The halo behind the figure, which signifies light surrounding the deity, still shows traces of goldleaf decoration. This figure would have been placed on the altar of a Buddhist temple and shows the simple, elegant style prevalent in Japanese Buddhist sculpture of the Heian period (794–1185), which developed under the patronage of the aristocracy.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 8: pl. 9.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 91, vol. 2: p. 179.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 88.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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