The San Antonio Museum of Art acquires rare wooden Japanese Amitabha Buddha

This rare wooden sculpture of a Amitabha Buddha from Japan dates to the late 12th century.

ArtDaily.org
Sunday, March 4, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The San Antonio Museum of Art announced the recent acquisition of a rare wooden sculpture of a Amitabha Buddha from Japan dating to the late 12th century. The Amitabha (Japanese: Amita) Buddha was originally lacquered and gilded. Some pigment and gilding are still present on the beautifully balanced and symmetrical figure.

“This acquisition is a wonderful addition to our presentation of Japanese Buddhist art,” says John Johnston, the Coates-Cowden-Brown Curator of Asian Art at SAMA. “The date of the object is astonishing. Any wooden sculpture, much less one of this very high quality, that is 800 years old is very rare.”

Johnston continues, “The figure has a serene and calming presence. The carving is restrained, but expressive. I believe it will be of great interest to our members and the general public.”

In this sculpture of Amitabha, his upraised hand represents fearlessness and his lowered hand represents gift-giving. On both hands the middle finger and thumb touch, forming a circle, which represents teaching. The delicate wooden Buddha would have been set into a base in the shape of a lotus.

The Museum, which is well known for its extensive Asian art collection, features Buddhist art that includes paintings from Tibet and sculptures from China and Japan, some of which are centuries old and extremely rare. The new acquisition fills a gap in the presentation of early Japanese Buddhist sculpture and joins images of Amitabha in the collection from Tibet, China, and Korea.

The newly arrived Amitabha Buddha sculpture can be found in the Japanese Galleries on the second floor of the Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art Wing at SAMA beginning on Friday, February 24, 2012. The purchase was made possible with funds provided by Lenora and Walter F. Brown, longtime generous patrons of arts and education in San Antonio, and Life Trustees of SAMA.
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