Amitabha Buddha (Amida), the Buddha of Infinite Light

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Medium
Gilt bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 47.6 × 10 × 12.7 cm (18 3/4 × 3 15/16 × 5 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1971.4a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Sculpture
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
abhaya mudra, Amitabha Buddha, Buddha, Buddhism, casting, gilding, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

The Buddha of Infinite Light, known in Japanese as Amida, presided over the Pure Land, the Western Paradise where the faithful could be reborn and gain release from an endless cycle of birth, rebirth, and suffering. Worship of Amida, which reached a peak during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), was promoted by the promise of salvation and also by the Japanese belief that mappo, the final period of decline of the Buddhist Law, had begun in the eleventh century.

This small gilt-bronze sculpture of Amida was created for private worship; the symbolic hand gestures, known as mudra, signify protection against fear. Bronze is traditionally believed to have been the earliest medium of Buddhist sculpture in Japan. Although wood became the dominant medium from the ninth century onward, bronze continued in widespread use for small images and was occasionally used for large sculptures such as the Great Buddha at Kamakura.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 38, p. 50.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.