Amitabha Buddha (Amida), the Buddha of Infinite Light

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

Buddhist sculpture

abhaya mudra, Amitabha Buddha, Buddha, Buddhism, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333)
Provenance research underway.

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
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