Important Cultural Property
Color on wood, single block construction, carved eyes
Heian period/9th-10th century
Nara National Museum
This life-sized seated statue is called Nyoirin Kannon and has six arms. It is said to have been enshrined in the Nyoirin Kannon-do in Ekoin (Kamijyo-ku, Kyoto-shi). Ekoin was built in the Edo period and according to the temple biography, this statue was one of two Noirin Kannon statues discovered in the sea close to Tango province in 1628 and the other one is currently in Zenfuku-ji Temple in Kyoto-shi (tenth century).
The shoulder part of each arm is attached to the body and both legs are made from other materials and were attached later. The head and body parts are made from a block of Japanese nutmeg tree (avoiding the tree core to the forward) and the technique known as Uchiguri (hollowing out) was not used. In addition to this old structure, features such as the large cylindrical crown carved from the same tree, the dignified facial expression with connected eyebrows, the shape of the head with depth and the wide and relaxed body indicate that this statue was made in or before the late Heian period. In view of the fact that this statue stands straight while not leaning its head, it is quite similar to Japan's oldest six-arm Nyoirin Kannon statue enshrined in Kanshin-ji Temple in Osaka. However, it is a shame that it is slightly off balance as a part of the arms has been replaced.
The other feature in expressing this statue is that a Johaku (a cloth) is draped from the left shoulder to cover the wide part of the stomach as well as the back to the extent that it almost reaches to the base. Although this is a unique style, there are some precedents to be found in the statues related to Tendai Buddhism. Therefore, it tends to be assumed that this statue is also based on the iconography related to Tendai Buddhism.