Cloisonné  Vase
Pure silver sculpture of Kannon Bosatsu
By Takamura Koun
Late 19th Century - 18 in (45 cm) high

Pure tradition ...

Preservation of valued and sacred artistic traditions requires dedication, skill, and a purity of vision. The tradition of Japanese Buddhist art is here preserved in a magnificent vision of the Bodhisattva Kannon by renowned 19th century sculptor Takamura Koun. The image of Kannon is preserved in pure silver, a heavier and higher quality than sterling known as jungin.

Takamura Koun (1852-1934) was celebrated in his lifetime as a great revivalist of Buddhist arts during the Meiji period. Trained in the revered methods of religious art and iconography, he won top awards at international exhibitions and created works for the new Imperial Palace. Koun was honored as a member of the Imperial Art Academy and as a teacher of the Tokyo Art School. His work brought increased notice after the opening of the Shosoin Imperial treasure house in the ancient city of Nara. This brought the world’s focus on the splendid Buddhist legacy of Japan.

Koun’s image of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, recalls the posture and proportions of 7th century sculpture of the Nara period. Her elongated form, elegant stance and drapery, and idealized features impart gentleness as well as the power to heal and to provide comfort. She holds in her left hand the delicate stem of a lotus bud and curled leaf, emblematic of purity.

The unusual aspect of this Kannon is its striking size in a sumptuous material that was previously unavailable on this scale to the Buddhist sculptor. Works of art formed in extravagant jungin (pure silver) became conceivable because of new possibilities introduced in the Meiji period. The shimmering, reflective quality of the pure silver enhances the ethereal quality of this divine image, while a flourish of gilt on the crown of Kannon adds to its impressiveness.

Orientations Gallery strives to preserve and to provide such innovative works drawing on the rich artistic traditions of Japan. Please contact us for this and other inspiring Japanese works of the highest quality craftsmanship.