Go around the world of Buddha statues 12: the statues of Korea and Japan 4

Bodhisattva statue “ 観音菩薩像”, 985 years, H.18m 

< 1. Bodhisattva statue “ 観音菩薩像”, 985 years, H.18m >


I approach the reason why the Buddha statues of Korea and it of Japan have been different.


Buddha statues of Goryeo Period (918~1392)

Above image is a stone statue in early Goryeo Period that was made in a momentum of the Buddhism revival.

It is the design with a high regard for shamanism at the sacrifice of truth to life.







Bodhisattva statues of each country

< 2. Bodhisattva statues of each country  >

A:  China or Korean Peninsula, Liao Period, the 10~11th century.

B:  China, Song Period, the 10~13th century.

The images A and B of the neighboring countries are alike, and very attractive.

C:  Korea, Goryeo Period, 1333 years.

D:  Korea, Goryeo Period, 1310 years, Japanese collection.

It seems that Buddha statue C of the same period lacks in luster although the Goryeo Buddhist painting D is elaborate and wonderful.

E:  Japan, Daigo-ji, Kamakura Period, 1192 years, by Kaikei.

Like Buddha statue E, the Japanese Buddha statue reached the peak these days.


A: 中国か朝鮮半島、遼時代、10~11世紀。

B: 中国、宋時代、10~13世紀。


C: 韓国、高麗時代、1333年。

D: 韓国、高麗時代、1310年、日本所蔵。


E: 日本、醍醐寺、鎌倉時代、1192年、快慶作。



The Buddha statues of each country are compared.


Buddha statues” 如来像” of each countries 

< 3. Buddha statues” 如来像” of each countries >

A:  Korea, Buseok Temple, Goryeo Period, the 11~12th century.

B:  Korea, the right statue is bodhisattva, Sinheungsa Temple, Korea Dynasties period, 1651 years.

C:  China, Shanxi or Henan Province, Ming Period, the 16th century.

D:  Japan, Jodo-ji, Kamakura Period, 1195 years, by Kaikei.

The influence of the Tibetan Buddhism is not seen in an expression change of between Korean statue A and B.

Meanwhile, the truth to life seems to have been lost more.


A: 韓国、Buseok Temple, 高麗時代、11~12世紀。

B: 韓国、右は菩薩像、Sinheungsa Temple, 朝鮮時代、1651年。

C: 中国、山西省か河南省、明時代、16世紀。

D: 日本、浄土寺、鎌倉時代、1195年。快慶作。




Splendid Buddha statue and Bodhisattva statue of Korea 

< 4. Splendid Buddha statue and Bodhisattva statue of Korea >

A: Buddha statue, Pulguksa temple, Unified Silla Period, the 8~9th century, national treasure.

B:  Bodhisattva statue, Gyeongju, Korea Dynasties period, 1501 years, treasure.

These two statues have high artistry as representing of Buddha statues of the early period and the latter period in Korean Peninsula.

However, in the time between, it seems that the Buddha statues between Goryeo Period and Korea Dynasties Period lacked in luster.


A: 如来像、仏国寺、統一新羅時代、8~9世紀、国宝。

B: 菩薩像、慶州、朝鮮時代、1501年、宝物。





The reason

1.In Goryeo Period, the dynasty continued to be invaded by Liao of northern countries and Yuan, and the dynasty extremely declined. Only the dynasty continued, but the country was burnt to the ground, and the antiquities became the ash and people were not able to afford to raise the artistry of the Buddha statue.

2.When Goryeo was dominated by Yuan, the influence of the Tibetan Buddhism appeared in the crown and the posture of the statues of Bodhisattvas and Four Heavenly Kings in Goryeo. As for this, China was the same, too. However, the facial expression of Buddha and Bodhisattva statues kept the originality of Korean Peninsula.

3.In Korea Dynasties period, the dynasty abolished many temples and oppressed Buddhism. Therefore the execution and the preservation of Buddha statue fell into desuetude.








However, there is still a problem.


“持国天” of Four Heavenly Kings of each countries 

< 5.  “持国天” of Four Heavenly Kings of each countries >

A:  China, Beijing, Ming Period, the 14~17th century.

B: China, Tang Period, the 9th century.

C: Korea, Beomeosa temple.

D: Japan, To-ji Temple, Heian Period, 839 years.

The fearful face of Knogorikishi statues is common to China, Korea, and Japan, but the fearful face of Four Heavenly Kings statues seems to be only Japan.

Four Heavenly Kings statues in China and Korea seem to express dignity and influence.

On the other hand, in Japan, Four Heavenly Kings statues were assumed the same role of Knogorikishi. Therefore coercing and terrorizing seems to have been emphasized.



A: 中国、北京大覚寺、明時代(14~17世紀)に再建。

B: 中国、唐時代、9世紀。

C: 韓国、梵魚寺、年代不明。

D: 日本、東寺、平安時代、839年。






Bishamonten of Four Heavenly Kings: Shizuoka prefecture, Kamakura period, the 12th century

< 6.  Bishamonten of Four Heavenly Kings: Shizuoka prefecture, Kamakura period, the 12th century >

There, I recollect above statue.

I thought it was the representation with a folly of youth of genius Unkei.

But if perchance he knew Four Heavenly Kings statue of continent, then he might have defied the trend of Japan in those days.


The above explanation is only my reasoning.

I approach the origin of the Buddha statue from the next time.









Categories: culture+society, history+evolution, <english language, <japanese language, Series: Go around the world of Buddha statues | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Go around the world of Buddha statues 12: the statues of Korea and Japan 4

  1. I appreciate very much the (background) work for Your post Great post.

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