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Rare Gilt Wood Shrine Figure
Ti-tsang Bodhisattva
Savior of Hell
Circa: Early Qing Dynasty, China (1644-1911)
H.12.5 in. (31cm) x W. 5 in. (13cm) x D. 3 in. ( 7.6cm)
Condition: Paint loss, overall very good!

This rare shrine wood sculpture of the Savior of Hell, Bodhisattva Ti-tsang (Japanese, Jizo; Sanskrit, Ksitigarbha) is likely an effigy once used in ritual that invokes the dead.

The gild wood statue of King of the Under-world is well carved, the Ti-tsang image is strictly in observation with the Chinese Buddhist tradition. This carving depicts Ti-tsang sits in Dhyana Mudra above the swirling waves, which indicates crossing of the under-world. The statue appearers that it has been consecrated with a ritual blessing. There is a certain ritual offering embedded in the hallowed space in the statue to which a piece of paper is adhered to keep this substance in place. Though the writing on the paper has since faded, nevertheless, we assume that it was either the name of the deceased, or a Taoist, Buddhist inscription of prayer.

It is important to note that in the period preceding this carving, Chinese tradition preferred burial for their dead, cremation is strictly a practice for Taoist and Buddhist monks. The carving likely functioned as the guide of the deceased, and Ti-tsang is responsible for carrying both the body and the soul to the under-world.


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