Series: Go around the world of Buddha statues

Go around the world of Buddha statues 29: The beginning of God statue in China 7

仏像を巡って 29: 中国の神像の始まり 7


< 1. a statue of Taoism in Taiwan >

< 1. 道教像、台湾 >


This time, we look at the wonder of religion that was behind the background of the birth of god statue.

“The beginning of God statue in China “ is the last at this article.







< 2. the change of the Chinese human statue for approximately 4,000 years >

< 2. 約4000年間にわたる中国の人物像の変遷 >


What had happened to Taoism and Buddhism?

In the despair of troublous times in those days, people didn’t come to refuse Buddhism only because it was a religion of different ethnic groups.

Then, the people became fascinated by the cultivation of mind or the help of the Buddha that Buddhism advocated.

The people received the theory “a never-ending cycle of life and death” to endure temporal unreasonableness.

In addition, many dynasties came to use the influence.


On the other hand, Taoism became popular until it was favorably compared with Buddhism, but it was necessary to change to other direction from Chinese alchemy (medicine-making techniques) because of developing poisoning death by the medicine for immortality.

Therefore, Taoism incorporated the cultivation of mind from Buddhism as means of the perpetual youth and longevity.

In addition, Taoism had been necessary to theorization due to argument with Buddhism, and put the philosophy of Doka on a basis.


On the other hand, Buddhism adopted a prayer and execration of Taoism, too.

Buddha and Laozi that had been the founder of the each sect were advertised as the same person by both religions.


















< 3. Laozi of China and “a never-ending cycle of life and death” of India >

< 3. 中国の老子とインドの輪廻転生 >


A mystery of the statue birth of Taoism

The supreme god of Taoism should have become clear from those days because sacred books of Taoism were accomplished from about the first century.

However, the statues birth of Taoism was the sixth century, and was 2 centuries later than Buddha statues had spread.

Even if people can make human statue, it seems to have had a hesitation to express supreme god by human image.


In many religions of the world, why was there such delay of god statues?


There is the hint a little.

In addition, the purposes of the worship were restrictive and intermittent, such as ancestor worship, burial, disease recovery, huge harvest, and exorcism.


However, when a unified dynasty was born, the guardian deities of each tribe were systematized, and a personal god like the king came out on the top.

This personal god became the supreme god who can accept all wishes from national prosperity to disease recovery.


In this situation, when a religion having the statue of personal god came in, a tendency of the molding of the god statue becomes lively.

In this way, the god statue was independently enshrined and came to be always worshiped.

As for this, not only China but also India and Japan were similar.























< 4. a crematory of Ganges and the mausoleum of first Qin Emperor >

< 4. ガンジス川の火葬場と秦の始皇帝の陵墓 >


It shows that a collision of different cultures further developed the view of society, religious piety and carving skill of people.

For example, by accepting of the concept ”a never-ending cycle of life and death”, Chinese burial culture united with Indian cremation culture that differed in ” view of life and death”, and it affected not only China but also Japan.






Religion has sublime idea, and particularly there is a power to grow splendid neighborly love.

On the other hand, the more believers’ piety is strong, the more they hate pagans intensely.

However, the syncretism was possible precisely even between the religions caused serious confrontation because there was a truth common to all humankind in those, and spread in the world.


From next time, I will treat another theme about god statue of the world.












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Go around the world of Buddha statues 28: The beginning of God statue in China 6

仏像を巡って 28: 中国の神像の始まり 6

 1 茅山  

< 1. A statue of Taoism in one of Taoism’s sacred spots >

< 1. 道教の聖地茅山、大きな尊像が見える >


This time, we look at the situation that statue of Taoism was born.

It resulted after Buddhism had become popular.




How was god statue of Taoism born?

Here, I explain it by applying the word “statue of Taoism (Tianzun)” to god statue






< 2. Triad statues >

< 2. 三尊像 >

In fact, one of these is a Buddha statue, and the others are statues of Taoism.

These resemble closely so that we cannot notice the difference.


Fig. J: Triad statues of Taoism in the early 6th century.

This was the first thing as single independent statue.


Fig. K: Triad statues of Taoism in the middle of 6th century.


Fig. L: Triad statues of Buddhism in the 4th – 6th century.


The characteristic of the statue of Taoism is a crown on the head, a short staff of bamboo with bundled hair, and a bent desk of three legs.

Fig. K and O show it clearly.





図J: 道教三尊像、北魏、6世紀初め。



図K: 道教三尊像、北周、6世紀中頃。


図L: 仏教三尊像、北魏、4~6世紀。






< 3. Triad statues of Taoism (The Three Pure Ones) >

< 3. 道教の三尊像 >


In Buddhism, Buddha doesn’t stand in line with three persons, but in Taoism, statues of Taoism that are nearly same class (the supreme god) stand in line with three persons.

But after all, the middle statue is the highest class.

There are many kinds of statue of Taoism by the religious sect of Taoism.

In Buddhism, the middle of triad statues is a rule to be the Buddha, but there are many different types in Taoism.


Fig. M: Yun Gang cave shrine, the 8th century

There are many huge cave temples in Buddhism, but only there are a few of small cave shrines in Taoism.

This cave shrine consists of 9 caves, but there are 1400 caves in Longmen Grottoes of Buddhism.


Fig. N: No. 5 cave in Yun Gang cave shrine, the 8th century

This is the same as Buddha statue except a crown.


Fig. O: Triad statues of Taoism in a Taoist temple of Shanghai







図M: 龍山石窟、山西省、唐、8世紀。




図N: 龍山石窟第5窟、8世紀。



図O: 道教三尊像、太清宮、上海。



A huge change of Chinese religion occurred

The Buddhism was introduced into China in the first century, but was not accepted very much first.

It was because Buddhism was a religion of different ethnic groups, and had “a never-ending cycle of life and death” as a doctrine that opposed a view of life and death of Han people.

However, after about the 3rd century, the Chinese religion changed during war-torn era.

Confucianism that only preached the morality to government clerk declined, and Taoism became popular because of having preached perpetual youth and longevity, and disease recovery by prayer.

At the same time, some northern people that founded the many nations in the northern part of China adopted logical Buddhism.


Afterward, Buddhism and Taoism gained many believers along with competing each, and many dynasties made each a state religion or prohibited the religion.

Thus, Buddha statues had spread in first, and statues of Taoism were made by copying it.


On the next time, we look at the wonder of the religion behind the birth of statue of Taoism.

















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Go around the world of Buddha statues 27: The beginning of God statue in China 5

仏像を巡って 27: 中国の神像の始まり 5



< 1.  Mogao Caves in Dunhuang is a Buddhist heritage in China. >

< 1.敦煌莫高窟、中国の仏教石窟 >


This time, we survey the situation that Buddha statue had been spreading in China.




The introduction of Buddhism

The introduction of Buddhism was unexpectedly early, and the 1st century A.D.

Before long, the troubled times of the Three Kingdoms period finished, toward about the 4th century, the predawn of Buddhism came.

From about this time, small Buddha statue for being portable began to be made.








3 A-C 

< 2. these early Buddha statues were made before the Tang dynasty >

< 2. 初期の仏像、唐時代以前 >


A: this gilt bronze statue of Buddha was made in around central Asia in the first half of the 4th century.

This is the earliest Buddha statue of China.


B: a Bodhisattva statue of the early 5th century in Mogao Caves of Dunhuang.

The appearance is influenced by India or Iran.

Mogao Caves were dug for a training place of Buddhist during the 4th and 14th century.


C: a seated Buddha statue of the early 5th century in the Yungang Grottoes.

The nation of northern people that ruled the north China including Dunhuang engraved the largest statue on a rock like mountain by staking the national’s prestige.

The appearance is Mongolia-style.


A: 金銅菩薩立像、4世紀前半頃、中央アジアで製作か。



B: 弥勒菩薩交脚像、敦煌莫高窟第275窟、5世紀前半。




C: 仏座像、雲崗石窟第20窟、5世紀中頃。





< 3. Buddha statue of mature Chinese-style after the Tang dynasty >

< 3.成熟した中国風の仏像、唐時代以降 >


G: Buddha Statues of the 7th century.


H: this seating Buddha statue was made of wood in the 12th century.

The figure like a sexy woman is wonderful.


I: this large Buddha statue is only one of statues engraved on Longmen Caves in the 8th century.

Big Buddha of Nara in Japan was modeled after this statue.


Around this time, these statues became the figure with clothes, hairstyle, and posture of Chinese-style.


G: 十一面観音菩薩像、唐、7世紀。


H: 木造菩薩座像、金(中国北部の王朝)、12世紀末。



I: 毘盧遮那仏、龍門石窟奉先寺洞、唐、8世紀。





Until now, we looked at the change of Chinese Buddha statue, god statue, and human statue during 7000 years.


Much of human figures in the early stage were half beast and half man, shaman, mountain hermit or ancestor gods.

Around the beginning of the first century, it was considerably drawn like human being.


These were for individual purpose or religious faith such as an amulet of grave, a prayer of something, a prayer of eternal youth and immortality.

Until that time, people had not prayed to one statue that was placed in a shrine on the ground each day.


Outside Buddha statue, there weren’t all-around God having supernatural power and personal God that was expressed by a statue.


On the next time, we look at the situation that statue of noble character of Taoism was born suddenly in the Tang dynasty.



















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Go around the world of Buddha statues 26: The beginning of God statue in China 4

仏像を巡って 26: 中国の神像の始まり 4




< 1. a bronze mirror in a burial mound of the late of the 3rd century A.D. Kyoto >

< 1.三角縁神獣鏡、京都、3世紀末の古墳から出土 >

It is embossed with deities and sacred animals of Chinese image.



This time, we look at the forerunner of god statue.

It happened during the beginning of the first century (the Han Dynasty) and the Tang Dynasty.





The forerunner of god statue

In ancient times, exquisite bronze wares were buried as burial goods in the grave of a person of power.

Before long, it was replaced with dead person’s belongings like bronze mirrors and the walls of picture-etched stones or terra-cotta figures.

And, various human images called gods by documents came to be expressed on these burial goods.







< 2. a bronze mirror and picture-etched stones of grave’s walls >

< 2. 銅鏡と画像石 >


The bronze mirror for makeup had begun in around the 5th century B.C., before long it became an important tool of religious services and was buried in large amounts.

This picture-etched stone was line drawing carved on the wall of stone in underground grave, and it was made in large amounts in the era of the Later Han Dynasty.

We can see many figures of glamorous life in life, parade by horses and pedestrians, festival, auspicious image in the grave, and sacred animal, and immortal and supernatural being at the entrance and gate.


Fig. N, O: a bronze mirror of 19.6 cm in diameter in the middle of the Later Han Dynasty, the 2nd century A.D.

Simple patterns were described on the backside of the mirror at first, and such deities and sacred animals were described from the middle of the Later Han Dynasty.

These figures reflected the concepts of immortal and supernatural being, and symbolized the ideal of perpetual youth and longevity.

The backside of Fig. N is a mirror, and Fig. O shows the figure of Fig. N.

Two gods are located in the up and down in the center of the mirror, and other three gods are beside each god.

Blue dragon and white tiger of guardian deity are contraposed on central right and left.


After that, such mirror describing deities and sacred animals became filled with more many gods.


Fig. P: “Seiobo” of picture-etched stones in the 2nd century A.D.

“Seiobo”(The Queen Mother of the West)is a goddess who has a hair ornament on the head, and a god presiding over eternal youth and immortality.


Fig. Q: a picture-etched stone in the Han Dynasty

A Seiobo sitting on the dragon and tiger, 9 foxes, a crow with three feet and other animals are described in it.







図N、O: 神人龍虎画像鏡、青銅製、直径 19.6cm、後漢中期(後2世紀)。












図Q: 漢代の画像石。




Development of the doll of burial goods




< 3. Tang sancais made of clay for burial goods in the 7th-8th century A.D. >

< 3.唐三彩、粘土の素焼人形、副葬品、7―8世紀 >

Fig. D: The people of the Western Regions (west of Central Asia) are molded.

Fig. E: The beautiful woman at the time was plump.

Fig. F: A guardian beast was made with scary look for protecting the grave.


Using doll for burial goods was actively pursued from the soldier figures in the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor.

In the Tang dynasty, colorful Tang sancais became popular.

Even if there is part deformed, it became considerably realistic.

People prayed for the happiness of the dead person, and the terrible beast was a protector against evil.

The statues buried with dead person were based on faith to the future life.


図D: 西域(中央アジア以西)の人々が造形されている。

図E: 女性像。当時の美人はふくよかであった。

図F: 鎮墓獣。墓を守る為に怖い形相をした人獣が造られた。








Before long, the people came to express the burial goods with the human statue from the symbol of beast to respect a dead person.

However, it was intended to pray for tranquility of dead person, and for perpetual youth and immortality of earthly life.

Tang sancais, this statue was ordinary person, and never an all-around god.


It lacked a little something of the development for all-around God’s appearing.

This continues next time.


















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Go around the world of Buddha statues 25: The beginning of God statue in China 3

仏像を巡って 25: 中国の神像の始まり 3


1 兵馬俑

< 1. the soldier figures in the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor in the 3rd century B.C.  >

< 1. 兵馬俑、秦の始皇帝陵墓、前3世紀   >


This time, we keep track of a change of human statues from prehistoric age to about the first century A.D.

Various feelings were included in these human statues.





About the soldier figures in the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor

The statue A of Fig. 1 that is one of 8000 statues became an epoch-making expression of the human statue in Chinese history.

The appearance of these statues is different each, it is very realistic and these heights are 1.8-2 m.

The burial goods (statue M of fig. 6) in the Imperial mausoleum of subsequent Han dynasty had many numbers, but looked inferior in small size.

But after that, many very expressive human statues started to be made.


Before that, human statues had been buried to grave of a lord, but it was rare and was very simple.

In the earlier years, humans and cattle were killed and buried.













Let us keep track of a change of human statues




< 2. the map indicating the excavation site of these fig. >

< 2.図像の出土位置を示す地図  >




< 3. the earliest type of human images >

< 3. 最初期の人物表現 >

Fig. B: a bowl made of painted pottery of about 4500 B.C.

A fish image with a human head drawn inside it means a hope of descendant prosperity that is based on fish laying a lot of eggs.


Fig. C: a human statue made of stone with a height of 8.6 cm in about 4500 B.C.

This is a burial good, and seems to be Sherman by the clothes and the style, and had been sewed on a clothing of a religious leader.


Fig. D: a nude statue in 4000-3000 B.C.

This clay figure is suggestive of Venus.

This type made of stone was excavated here from about 6000 B.C., and was the earliest nude statue in China.














< 4. three figures of stone or bronze >

< 4. 玉と青銅器の図像 >

Fig. E: a ritual implement made of stone in about 3100 B.C.

This was a bracelet of priest at first, and after that, came to play a central role in rituals as implement.

Some animal heads have been engraved on the surface.

In animal heads of the lower side, the eyes and mouth are very clear.







Fig. F: a bronze ware in 1300-1050 B.C.

This bronze ware had been for boiling, but was for rituals and a burial good of the upper class.

Such animal heads often were engraved on this type of wares.

Its figure consists of a central nose, symmetrical big eyes, ears like nail expanding outward, great horns bending overhead, and a greatly below opened mouth.

It seems to have been a charm against evil.


Fig. G: a bronze ware originally used for serving wine of 1300-1050 B.C.

Dragons and animals are engraved on the surface of the tiger figure, and it is holding a human being.

In those days, the people thought that the power of animals was necessary for the contact between people and sky, ground, and divine spirit.












5 三星堆

< 5. statues made of bonze in 2000-1000 B.C. >

< 5. 三星堆遺跡の青銅像、四川省、紀元前2000~1000年 >

There were not such human statures, mask and head in other cultures of the same era.

The face was strongly emphasized such as these eyes, ears and mouth.

The people buried these figures in the underground for worshipping ancestor God.


Fig. H: a shaman statue with a height 1.8 m.






図H: シャーマン像、人像高1.8m、祭祀と関係した特徴的な手をしている。



< 6. two statues with wing and a clay dolls  >

< 6. 羽人と俑  >

Fig. K: the statue with wing made of wood has been buried in a grave of 4th century B.C.

The statue stands on a bird on a beast.

The upper body is a naked human, the mouth is a bill, and the lower body is a bird.

These statues with wing showed mountain hermit in old books.


Fig. L: a statue with wing made of bronze of from 202 B.C. to 8 century A.D.


Fig. M: a woman statue made of painted pottery in the 2nd century B.C.

This is one of the things that were buried in large quantities in the mausoleum of a Han emperor.


図K: 羽人、木製漆仕上げ、湖北省荊州市、戦国時代の楚の墓、紀元前4世紀。





図L: 羽人、青銅製、陕西省西安出土、前漢時代(前202~後8年)。


図M: 彩色女俑、高さ63cm、漢陽陵考古陳列館蔵、前漢時代(前2世紀)。



Development of human statue

In ancient times, people emphasized the superior characteristic that people were in awe of animal at, and made the statues.

The statues like human had been buried almost always.

This was for using after the death of their load, and for respecting an ancestral spirits.


The most important thing is the people did not express the object of their belief as realistic human image, even as people probably had the arts of realistic expression in those days.


On the next times, we look at the forerunner of god statue.














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Go around the world of Buddha statues 24: The beginning of God statue in China 2

仏像を巡って 24: 中国の神像の始まり 2



< 1. a Chinese dragon in Forbidden City  >

< 1. 中国紫禁城の龍   >


This time, we easily see how Chinese myth was born.

God statue is born from the myth, but the converse is not true.







< 2. main gods >

< 2. 主要な神々 >



Chinese gods existed innumerably, and after that, these are systematized by Taoism.

I introduce representative gods.


Fig. A: Two gods together created the heaven and the earth.

The female god “ Nüwa“ and the male god “ Fu Hsi “ are expressed as a couple having the shape of a snake and a human head.

Fig. B: “ Fu Hsi “ is expressed alone and is assumed to be the founder of Chinese people.

Fig. C: “ Yellow Emperor” was mentioned in the history of medical art, and is assumed to be the first emperor and the founder of Taoism.







図A: 天地開闢の神で、人類創造の女神「女媧」と帝王の男神「伏羲」が同じ蛇身人首の夫婦で表されている。

図B: 単独で描かれた「伏羲」で、中華民族人民の始祖とされています。

図C: 医術の歴史にも出てきた「黄帝」で、最初の帝(架空)にあたり、道家の始祖とされる。


A broad stream of the birth of Chinese myth

Many Chinese prehistory cultures were born in a square plain with a side length of 2000 km.

The peoples that created these had peculiar culture and myth, but moved to remote places or deep mountains as Han people became dominant before long.

These peoples didn’t have writing system, and the myth had been handed down orally.

Thus the myths disperse and remained.

Today, 55 kinds of peoples exist.











< 3. various peoples in China >

< 3. 中国の多様な民族 >



< 4. mythical animals and gods in “Shan Hai Jing”  >

< 4. 山海経に出てくる伝説上の動物や神々 >


Shan Hai Jing is the oldest geographical document, and was written from the 4th century B.C.

In this book, geography and products, animals and plants of the whole land of China were described, but there were many fantastic things.


Han people that had initially had writing system began mythical systematization in the middle of first millennium B.C.

For example, Confucius wrote the sacred books (the Nine Chinese Classics) for preaching his teaching with quoting mythical kings and emperors of more than 2000 years ago.


And Sima Qian wrote a Chinese history book “Shiki” in the first century B.C.

He described in it that older dynasties began by Yellow Emperor.

They used the myth to give authority to their own opinion and the dynasty.


However, Chinese myth is not systematized in comparison with other civilization.

Basically, many dynasties didn’t regard a pedigree of god as important as much as other civilization, because people gave priority to this world life and politics.

And they never have ignored.

In the words of Confucius, a view of Chinese religion shows well.

There was this sentence in the Analects.

” Person concentrates on own task and must respect god, but doesn’t depend on god. This was proper attitude as an intellect.”

This was a posture of the thinker on behalf of China.


In addition, in the large country, innumerable myths have been already handed down.

Therefore, the mythical systematization did not advance even if the national unification was finished.

After all, Chinese people took in a large number of gods and myths as necessary, and it kept increasing.


On the next time, we keep track of a change of human statues from prehistoric age to about the first century A.D.































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Go around the world of Buddha statues 23: The beginning of God statue in China 1

仏像を巡って 23: 中国の神像の始まり 1



< 1. a sacred place of Taoism in Nanjing   >

< 1.道教の聖地茅山、江蘇省(南京)   >


From now on, in seven times, we see how Chinese god statue was born.

There had been rich myth in China, Taoism was connected to foreign Buddhism and the statue took shape before long.

There is certain universal and mysterious relation between human being and religions in it.

We look through about 10,000 years from prehistoric times to the 7th century.

This time, I introduce the birth of Chinese civilization simply.









< 2. Things that Chinese ancient civilization created >

< 2.中国古代文明が生み出したもの >b.

A left fig.: a bronze ware of Yin dynasty in the later half of the 2nd millennium B.C.

A central fig.: founder Confucius of Confucianism in the 6th century B.C.

A right fig.: a soldier figures in the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor in the 3rd century B.C.







Chinese person statue also began from Venus or clay dolls on an equality with the other world.

Chinese god statues were born before long, but the way is so long.


In Chinese religion, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism played an important part.

Buddhism is a foreign religion from India, and Confucianism began in a sacred book of the morality that Confucius advocated in the sixth century B.C.

But Taoism is a religion that was born with gathering together the shamanism and thoughts of an immortality and supernatural being in various Chinese regions.

Therefore, very many myths were mixed in Taoism, and a large number of gods are included in it.













< Map 3. this map shows the areas from Neolithic cultures to early dynasties during 5000 – 1000 B.C. >

< 3. 新石器文化から初期王朝の地図、BC5000~BC1000頃 >


The development of early Chinese civilization

A rice harvest culture began in the midstream of the Yangtze River in about 10000 B.C., and the agriculture and the earthenware making went north along with spreading all over.

On the other hand, foreign cultures came in from north side at first, and after that, from northwest side.

The former means mainly the northward of Beijing, and stone dolls like Venus of the glacial epoch appeared first in about 7000 B.C., and it was expanding southward.

After that, China suffered the invasion of the northern peoples many times.

The latter means the westward of Xian, and western civilization came via central Asia.

The vestige became clear about first millennium B.C.

After that, the area played an important part as the trade route Silk Road.











< Map 4. Xia was first dynasty in Chain and is shown with a bitter orange color  >

< 4. 中国最初の王朝「夏」の誕生、橙色が「夏」の領域 >


Chinese early dynasties were born in the midstream of the Yellow River due to the movement of the three cultures and peoples mentioned above.

At first, Xia dynasty was born in second millennium B.C., and following this, all dynasties till Han dynasty put a stronghold in this area.

The people who had lived in this area (a bitter orange color part of Map 4) professed to be Han Chinese later.









< Map 5. the area of Han dynasty >

< 5. 漢の領域、ブログ「地球人の歴史」より借用 >

A red line shows the first ambit, and a yellow line shows the max ambit, during 202 B.C. and 220 A.D.


Thus Chinese civilization was born and expanded.

On the next time, we look at the myth in China.










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Go around the world of Buddha statues 22: What is the beginning of God statue (Buddha statue)?

仏像を巡って 22: 神像(仏像)の始まりとは何か?


   神官 Flamen and king statues in Indus civilization

< 1.   Flamen and king statues in Indus civilization >

< 1. インダス文明の神官王像 >


Last time, I introduced the birth of Hindu statue in India.

So, some persons would have a doubt.

“Are older human statues not the god statues? ”

Before examining this mystery, we sort out this problem at first.







 2 初期人物像,  the earliest human statues of prehistoric times 

< 2. the earliest human statues of prehistoric times >

< 2. 先史時代の人物像 >


What did the earliest human statues mean?

These human statues were made in the entire world from the prehistoric times.

I will briefly show the reasons these human statues are not regarded as god statues.


For example, in India, the earliest human statues (fig. 1) were found from remains of Indus civilization (about 2500 years ago), and simple mud dolls were found in each place after that time.    

In islands of the Aegean Sea, the earliest human statues (fig. A) were excavated at approximately 2,500 years ago

In Japan, ” Statue of Venus of Jomon Period” (fig. B) was made at approximately 5,000 years ago.

In Europe, Statue of Venus (fig. C) was made at the glacial epoch of approximately 30,000 years ago.

May we regard the earliest human statues as god statues?

Probably, these would have been used for purpose of prayer, black art, and the burial.














王と神 ,god statues after city civilization

< 3. god statues after city civilization >

< 3. 都市文明以降の神像 >


The reason that we cannot positively say that the earliest human statues are god statues

As one reason, we cannot identify the relation between a human figure and the myth because of preliterate society.

As more important thing, most myth that humanized divinities stood on top related to the birth of city civilization.

In fact, the myth in preliterate society was the secret that most were handed down from person to person by a social specific hierarchy.

For example, in India, the doctrine including the myth continued to be handed down from a master to limited disciple by oral tradition.

Before long, in the process in which small nations were being unified all over the world, each myth were unified under the guardian deity of the most powerful nation and came to be systematized.

There is difference according to the region, but the myth was being published for promising the royal authority.

In Code of Hammurabi (fig. D) of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, a personal god who was giving the king authority was expressed.

In most of the myth of preliterate society, animal and nature (mountain, river, tree, and plant) was God.

For example, it will be the vestige that most of gods (fig.E, Horus God) of Egyptian civilization were expressed by human statues having a head of animal.


And, in early times, there was resistance to express humanized divinities as shape of a person.

Judaism and Islam forbade idol worship, and, during the early days, Christianity did so, too.

Essentially, the founder of Confucianism and Buddhism wouldn’t wish themselves apotheosized and carved on statues.

Naturally, the pupil and the priest of the initial religious community would have refused idolization.




















What is important?

The beginnings of humanized divinities in each place seem to occur almost at the same time when the religion suddenly awakes.

Crossing the dividing line of this time, god statues being different from older human statues begin to be born.

Actually, the boundary will be an inarticulate one.

For example, Buddhist statue and Hindu statue of India were so.

The religion has been systematized, the religious scripture has been established and idolization has been permitted, subsequently, the birth of god statue seems to occur almost.

The idol expression of competing religion and different civilization seems to influence this beginnings.


From the next time, I examine the beginnings of China.















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Go around the world of Buddha statues 21: the encounter with Buddha statue and Hindu statue

仏像を巡って 21: 仏像と神像の出会い


< 1. Siva >

< 1. シバ神 >


This time, I introduce how Buddhism and Hinduism were affected mutually along with the development of the statue in India.

There is a mystery common to the history of religions in it.





The statue of the rise period of Buddhism



Yaksi images were carved to a stone pillar, Bharhut in India, the beginning the 1st century B.C. 

< 2. Yaksi images were carved to a stone pillar, Bharhut in India, the beginning the 1st century B.C. >

< 2. 石柱に彫られたヤクシー像、バールフット出土、インド、前1世紀初め >


Commentary:  This railing surrounded the Stupa (pagoda), and Yaksi (goddess of fertility) of a folk belief were arranged at the pillar as a guardian deity.

This became the four heavenly kings that protect north, south, east and west afterward.

This is thing of the earliest stage that God and Buddha were carved in India.


解説: この柵(欄楯)はストゥーパー(仏塔)を囲っていたもので、その柱に民間信仰の神ヤクシー(豊穣の女神)等を守護神として配していた。





 A biography of Buddha” Brahma and Indra entreat Buddha to preach”, Gandhara in Pakistan, about the 1st century 

< 3. A biography of Buddha” Brahma and Indra entreat Buddha to preach”, Gandhara in Pakistan, about the 1st century >

< 3. 仏伝「梵天勧請」、ガンダーラ出土、パキスタン、1世紀頃 >


Commentary:  In the lower left, Bo-ten joins his hands in prayer to Buddha on bended knees, and the other side is Taishaku-ten.

Bo-ten is called Brahma in Brahmanism, and Taishaku-ten is Indra.

Indra was a courageous God and was the top of all Gods in the Brahmanism era, but the position lowered in the Hinduism era.

In the first Buddhist scriptures, the aspect that Gods of Brahmanism entreat Buddha to preach was described.


解説: 向かって左下にひざまずいて釈迦に合掌する梵天、その反対側に帝釈天。





Seated Buddha Triad, Ahicchatra in India, the 2nd century

< 4.   Seated Buddha Triad, Ahicchatra in India, the 2nd century >

< 4. 仏三尊像、アヒチャトラー出土、インド、2世紀 >


Commentary:  In the left, a statue that wears a scarf and is western-style guards Buddha with having a vajra( beetle).

This became guardians of the temple( Kongorikishi of Nandaimon in Todai Temple) afterward.

The right seems to be Bodhisattva.


解説: 向かって左、スカーフを巻いた西域スタイルの金剛杵を持つ像は仏陀を警護している。




The rise period of Buddhism, from the 1st century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D.


The birth of Buddha statue was caused by a religious movement of Indian people and the culture policy of a dynasty, and was influenced by western statue expression. Afterward, it developed rapidly from the 1st century to the 2nd century.

Before the birth of Buddha statue, deity statues for a folk belief and simple clay dolls were made.

However, the gods of Brahmanism having the history of 1,000 years were not molded before the birth of Buddha statue.







Actually, beginning to make God statue of the Brahmanism was the first in No.3 fig. and No.4 fig. almost.

While Brahmanism that was formerly prosperous by uniting with royal families had been losing substance, Buddhism won the heart of the people.

Therefore, the Buddhism took in Gods of the Brahmanism in Buddhist scriptures and showed it to the relief engraving afterward.


In the relief engraving, a lot of the Gods help Buddha, ask him for teaching, and follow him.

It showed that Buddha was more dominant than God of Brahmanism.









The statue of the rise period of Hindooism



 Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves 

< 5. Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves >

< 5. アジャンター石窟とエローラ石窟 >


Upper fig.: One of Ajanta Caves. This caves were dug as Buddhist temple in sequence from the 1st century B.C. to the 7th century.

Lower fig.: It is a Hind temple of Ellora Caves. 

This caves developed as Buddhist temple first, as Hindu temple in the 7-9 century successively, and as Jain temple afterward.


上図: アジャンター、第26窟。この石窟群は、前1世紀から7世紀頃まで仏教寺院として次々と掘られていった。

下図: エローラ、第16窟のカイラサナータ寺院(ヒンドゥー教)。この石窟群は初期に仏教、7~9世紀にヒンドゥー教、後にジャイナ教の寺院として発展した。


Siva and Vishnu 

< 6. Siva and Vishnu >

< 6. シヴァ神とヴィシュヌ神 >


Left fig.: Shiva is called Daikoku-ten in Buddhism. in Ellora Caves, the late stage of the 6th century.

Right fig.: Vishnu is called Kichijo-ten in Buddhism. about 401 year.

Commentary :  In this era, Siva, Vishnu and Brahma became the three great Gods of Hindooism.

Hindu God has much avatar, and the Vishnu of the right fig. has head of wild boar and stamps a bad dragon.

Furthermore, this Vishnu changed to Buddha also.



左図: シヴァは仏教では大黒天。エローラ石窟、6世紀後半。

右図: ヴィシュヌは仏教では吉祥天。ウダヤギリ石窟、401年頃。

解説: この時代になると、シヴァとヴィシュヌ、ブラフマーがヒンドゥーの三大神となっていた。




The rise period of Hindooism

Brahmanism was stimulated by the prosperity of Buddhism, and reformed by taking in Gods of a folk belief positively from about the 5th century B.C.

On the other hand, Buddhism reached the prosperity with the birth of Buddha statue, but began the decline before long.

Before long, the Brahmanism was reborn to Hinduism in about the 5th century, and came to get over Buddhism.


Hindu statue that once had served only to enhance Buddha statue’s greatness came to be outstanding as simple substance gradually.

Before long, Caves that were dug in each place changed from Buddhist temple to Hindu temple.










Subsequent deployment



 Indra and Taisyaku-ten 

< 7. Indra and Taisyaku-ten >

< 7. インドラと帝釈天 >


Left fig.: A current picture of Indra in India.

Right fig.: Taisyaku-ten in Japan (Indra).


左図: インドでの現在のインドラ図。

右図: 日本の帝釈天(インドラ)。


Hokke-do of Todai Temple

< 8. Hokke-do of Todai Temple >

< 8. 東大寺法華堂 >

Commentary: Two statues of Four Heavenly Kings is arranged in right and left from the outside to protect a principal statue, and two statues of Konngourikishi were located on the inner side of these.


解説: 本尊を守護するように外側から2体の四天王、その内側に金剛力士が左右に配されている。



Two impressive things happened here.

At first, priests seem resistant to express the Buddha by iconography.

However, as people had desired the material symbol, the expressing by iconography had developed rapidly with getting the example of competitive religion or outside world.


Two competitive religions take in the Gods of opponent religion.

I was not able to state it clearly this time, but each religion had internalized the opponent doctrine with taking in God statues, and had come to accommodate a request from people more.











The religion in the world has developed through the competition and the mixture such as the relation of Buddhism and Hindooism.





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Go around the world of Buddha statues 20:  The mystery hidden in Buddha statue

Left: the Great Buddha of Nara. Right: Buddha statue of Mathura 

< 1. Left: the Great Buddha of Nara. Right: Buddha statue of Mathura >


The mystery is a certain image expression that Buddha statue had already possessed at the occasion of this birth.

It is continuously inherited to the Japanese Buddha statue also.

This time, I pursue the origin moreover.


Halo and Abhaya Mudrā

Thing being common in both the Buddha statues of Fig. 1 is expression the form of seated posture, Abhaya Mudrā, and a halo.

From the start of Buddha statue birth in Gandhara, these three expression forms had emerged in the relief engraving that all kinds of life of Buddha was depicted with.

The seated posture derives from yoga (seated concentration).

This seated posture had already appeared in the Indus civilization before Aryan migrated, so its culture was peculiar to India.

The halo or the aureola is something like a disk or a ring attaching to the back of Buddha statues, and symbolizes emission of the light.

The Abhaya Mudrā is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright.

In Buddhism, this kind of expression means that Buddha gets rid of fear and uneasiness from people.

However, the India culture before it did not have these two expression forms.
















left: a cylinder seal in Mesopotamia in about the 23rd century B.C.  right: Code of Hammurabi in the 18th century B.C.

< 2. left: a cylinder seal in Mesopotamia in about the 23rd century B.C. right: Code of Hammurabi in the 18th century B.C. >


How was the halo born?

“Sun god Shamash radiates rays from the shoulder and appears with the figure that holds a thing like a saw in the hand”.

This is a passage in the myth of Assyria Babylonia.

Shamash in Mesopotamia’s God controls justice or four seasons and influences the outcome of war.

Figure 2 show Shamash God both.

In right fig., the God is conferring Code of Hammurab to the king.

We can see each shoulder emits some rays.









.  Mithra God

< 3. Mithra God >

Left fig.: Mithra on the right is meeting Syria king Antiochus 1, at the first century B.C. in Mt. Nemrut of Turkey.

Right fig.: Mithra on the left sanctifies the investiture of Sassanid emperor Ardashir, at the 3rd century in Taq Bostan(neighboring ruins of Bisotun) of Iran.

From heads of both Mithra, emission rays spread in a circle.

Mithra was a sun god that was shared by the earliest Aryan (Indo-Iranian), and described in Hindu scripture of India, and Zoroastrian Scripture of Iran.

This Mithra spread to Rome at the end of the first century A.D., and the iconography expression took root in the empire.


左図: 右のミトラ神がシリア王アンティオコス1世と会見。前1世紀、

右図: 左端のミトラ神がササン朝ペルシャの初代王を叙任する。3世紀、ベヒストゥンの近郊、Taq Bostan in Iran.





How was the Abhaya Mudrā born?



a form of the ancient oath 

< 4. a form of the ancient oath >

Left fig.: The Behistun Inscription of Darius 1 who administers an oath to the chief deity of Zoroastrianism in the air, at about the 5th century B.C. in Bisotun of Iran.

Right fig.: A noble female statue of fortified city Hatra. Hatra in Iraq were an important trading city of Parthia kingdom that nomad of Iran created after the first century B.C.


Forms of such an oath are seen in relief engravings of Assyria and Persia well.

Hammurabi of Fig. 2 also raises his right hand and takes an oath to God.


左図: ダレイオス1世のベヒストゥン碑文、王が天空のゾロアスターの最高神に宣誓している。前5世紀頃、Bisotun in Iran.

右図: 要塞都市ハトラの高貴な女性像、ハトラはイランの遊牧民が興したパルティア王国の重要な交易都市だった。前1世紀以降、イラク。






Halo and Abhaya Mudrā were the Mesopotamia origin both.

The halo seemed to symbolize the sun having overwhelming power.

This started in Mesopotamia God, was inherited by Mithra being the oldest god of Indo-Iranian, and was adopted to Indian Buddha statue

Originally, Abhaya Mudrā was a form that a king administered an oath to God.

This was inherited by Parthia kingdom from Mesopotamia, and was assimilated as the form that Buddha promised for the people in India.












this map shows some ruins and main kingdoms 

< 5. this map shows some ruins and main kingdoms >


Pink frame: a domain of Achaemenid Empire Persia (the 6th – 4th century B.C.).

Brown frame: a domain of Parthia kingdom (the 3rd century B.C. – the 3rd century A.D.).

Dark blue frame: a domain of Greco Bactria kingdom (the 3rd – the first century B.C.).


Indian Indus basin and Afghanistan was a place that India culture, nomad’s culture of Central Asia, and west culture of Iran or Greece mixed between the second millennium B.C. and the first millennium A.D.

This significantly influenced Buddha statue birth of India.


ピンク枠: アケメネス朝ペルシャ(前6~前4世紀)の領域。

茶色枠: パルティア王国(前3世紀~後3世紀)の領域。

紺色枠: グレコ・バクトリア王国(前3世紀~前1世紀)の領域。





Subsequent deployment

The halo was not the form that was adopted in Buddha statue of India only.

Probably, in the prairie or the desert area, it was a symbol common to human beings.






.  symbols of sun

< 6. symbols of sun >


Fig. 1: Re of Egypt being sun god puts the sun on the head.

Fig. 2: A gold coin of Ptolemy 3rd in the 3rd century B.C. in Egypt. Emission rays come out from the king’s head.

Fig. 3: Halo of Apollo God, the 2nd century, Tunisia.

Fig. 4: a picture of Islam. It is halo such as flame at the back of the saints.


This iconography that was expressed by solar beam, flame, and disk was used also for God and the Saint of Hinduism or Christianity.

The form of an oath that became the Abhaya Mudrā is remaining as a judiciary oath to raise the right hand now.


図1: エジプトの太陽神ラーは頭上に太陽を乗せている。

図2: プトレマイオス王3世の金貨、前3世紀、エジプト。王の頭から光りが出ている。

図3: アポロ神の光輪、2世紀、チュニジア。

図4: イスラム教の絵。聖人の背に炎のような光背。





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Go around the world of Buddha 19: Birth of statue


.  a female image, Cyclades in Greece, the 2500 years B.C. 

< 1. a female image, Cyclades in Greece, the 2500 years B.C.  >


Until now, we investigated the birth and the changes of the Buddha statue from various parts of Asia to India in the reverse direction.

The Buddha statue was born in India, was introduced from China to South Korea and Japan, and blossomed in each country.

From now on, I pursue the wonder of the birth of god statue around the world including Buddha statue.






one of Four Heavenly Kings in Korea  

< 2. one of Four Heavenly Kings in Korea >


The aim of this series

It was to investigate a relation of people and the religion by pursuing the changes of the Buddha statue.

Japanese have deep affinity for Buddha statue and will feel particularly artistic excellence from it.

However, it is not necessarily at one with the doctrine of the Buddhism.

The Buddha statue greatly changed in each country and the times, it was diversified, and it more became individual, and was mixed with other religion.

It may be said that it happened in the dimension being different from the original teaching of Buddha.









.  one of Four Heavenly Kings in Japan, the 9th century A.D. 

< 3. one of Four Heavenly Kings in Japan, the 9th century A.D. >


In other words, Buddha statue expression had been changed by the aboriginality culture of each country, the religion movement, the social situation, and the inflow of the foreign country culture.

In Japan, the aspect of the anger of Four Heavenly Kings statue was unique, when people of other country looked at it.

In the Korean Peninsula, the Buddha statue was greatly affected by the invasion of the different ethnic groups and the civil war even in Goryeo period having ardently taken care of the Buddhism.

In Cambodia and Thailand, the leadership struggle between Hinduism and Buddhism brought about the change and the mixture to Buddha statue, too.







Buddha statue in Thailand, the 14th century 

< 4. Buddha statue in Thailand, the 14th century >


Another aim

I want to know why the production of the sacred statue suddenly began in spite of having been evading it by people.

The similar phenomenon happened all over the world.

These are in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto of Japan, etc.

As seen in my series ” Birth of primitive art”, human beings were producing and using many images that already had religious implications 30,000 years ago.

However, it did not last long, changed the form and appeared suddenly in many cases.









Venus in Germany, 25,000 years ago

< 5. Venus in Germany, 25,000 years ago >


From now on, searching the hint to clear up this mystery, I pursue the birth process of the statue in antiquity around the world.

Probably I may find a mystery of human beings even if I do not lead to deep truth.


From next time, I go round mysterious world in antiquity.









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Go around the world of Buddha statues 18:  the birth of Buddha statues 5


I write about the process that Buddha statue was born in India.



       Priest king statue and female clay doll, Moenjo-Daro, 2600-1900 B.C.

< 1. Priest king statue and female clay doll, Moenjo-Daro, 2600-1900 B.C.>


From the oldest iconography in India

The above statures are things of Indus civilization, and the female doll resembles slightly the clay doll of Patna Museum (right-side in Fig. 6 of this series 17).

The priest king statue has greatly deformed eyes, but let you feel dignity.

The image expression was already possible at that time.







a posture of yoga

< 2. a posture of yoga >


Left fig.: a seal of Indus civilization in 2600-1900 B.C., a person performing yoga is being surrounded by sacred animals.

Right fig.: Buddha triad statue in the 2nd century. The posture of Buddha sitting down and meditating seems to have roots in Indus civilization.


左図: インダス文明の印章、紀元前2600~1900年、神聖な動物に囲まれ、ヨーガを行っている人物が描かれている。

右図: 仏三尊像、後2世紀、仏陀が座り、瞑想する行為の原点はインダス文明まで遡るようです。


 lion statue of a pillar of King Asoka in Sarnath, 250 B.C. 

< 3. lion statue of a pillar of King Asoka in Sarnath, 250 B.C. >


Although the power of expression of this statue was wonderful, these expressions of statue, construction and letter were a big blank in between Indus civilization collapse and this time.

After this time, relief engraving of King Asoka or native divine statues (Yaksi etc.) came to be made.






In the 3rd century B.C., King Asoka built epitaphs, king’s pillars, and stupas (Buddhism) in various parts of India, in order to encourage “law” (morality, religion).

Centering on these stupas, a trend to worship as God to Buddha who died at hundreds years ago was born (Mahayanist Buddhism).

On the other hand, a religious sect that strictly conformed to religious precepts of Buddha and searched the doctrine had separated from the people (Hinayana Buddhism).








a story of Buddha in a gate of a stupa in Sanchi 

< 4.   a story of Buddha in a gate of a stupa in Sanchi >


Upper fig.: a linden tree of the left corner shows Buddha.

Lower fig.: the scene shows that he rode a horse and went out left-side royal palace when Buddha was a prince. 50-25 B.C.


Before long, the relief engraving that explains a life of Buddha, miracles, and a doctrine was dedicated around these stupas.

However, people symbolized it with Buddha’s foot and linden tree without first expressing Buddha.

Probably, people hesitated to express worshiped Buddha with a poor image.

Moreover, Buddha itself did not desire to be deified probably.



上図: 左隅の菩提樹が仏陀を示している。

下図: 釈迦王子が左の王宮から馬に乗って出家するシーン、馬上に釈迦は描かれていない。前50~25年頃








Letter hadn’t yet spread at that time, and many people couldn’t read the sacred book of Buddhism and the story of Buddha.

Hereby, Buddha statue would also play important role for spreading Buddhism.

Before long, the produce of Buddha sculpture in the round began from relief engraving.

In Gandhara, the culture was affected by Greece, a resistance of the hesitation was few and the Greek style was adopted.

On the other hand, in Mathura, it was strong, and then Buddha statues were made by way of bodhisattva at first.

Gandhara and Mathura have influenced mutually, therefore it isn’t important which made Buddha statue in first.

Aryan Veda culture and native cultures had fused, and Greek culture of the westward stimulated it, and then Buddha statue was born.

By the degree of these influences, the difference between the both birthplaces arose.













gold coin

 5. gold coin >


Upper fig.: gold coin of King Kanishka in the 1st – 2nd century, left shows King Kanishka, right shows Buddha.

Lower fig.: Hindu’s Shiva and a bull in about the 2nd century.

The Brahmanism was stimulated by the Buddhism prosperity, and absorbed the beliefs among the natives, and the statues of Hindu god were made.


Next time, I investigate relations between Buddha statue in India and statues of god of the world.


上図: カニシカ王発行の金貨、表(左)にはカニシカ王、裏(右)には仏陀、後1~2世紀。

下図: ヒンドゥーのシバ神と牡牛、おそらく後2世紀。








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Go around the world of Buddha statues 17:  the birth of Buddha statues 4

.  a stupa in Sanchi (the grave dedicated to ashes of Buddha) 

     < 1. a stupa in Sanchi (the grave dedicated to ashes of Buddha) >


I investigate why Buddha statue was born in Mathura.



By “the birth of Buddha statues2” of this series, I explained the reason why Buddha statue had been born.

It was because the faith to Buddha arose around many stupas built in each place.





the territory of Kushan Empire is dark green part, the 1-3 century

< 2.   the territory of Kushan Empire is dark green part, the 1-3 century >

A red line is overland trade route, and a blue line is marine trade route.

A yellow frame shows the area that prospered in first half of the first millennium B.C., and includes Mathura.

A pink frame is the place where many city-states prospered at the 6-5 century B.C., and the Buddha played an active part here.







Ancient city Mathura

This city was along Yamuha river.

In the process of Aryan migration to the eastward, the area prospered at first half of the first millennium B.C.

Therefore, many Hindu myths came out of this ground.

In addition, this city was a turning point of an important trade route.

When going to the east, there is center of the civilization in that Buddha played an active part.

When going to the west, there is Gandhara that permit going to west additionally.

And when going to the south, they reached Mesopotamia from the Arabian Sea.

The city had become an important base of Buddhism and Jainism by the 2-4 century B.C.

In the first century B.C., Kushan Empire of northern nomad came into existence, and this city became sub-capital city.

King Kanishka (his reign was about the middle of the 2nd century) of this Empire protected religion including Buddhism.













What had occurred first.

Sanchi is about 500 kilometers south of Mathura.

Typical stupa fig.1 that King Asoka built in the third century B.C. remains here.

All kinds of life of Buddha are depicted with sculptures on the face of gates of fence surrounding the stupa,

Although these were timbered at the beginning of the construction, these were rebuilt with stone before and after the Christian era.

However, Buddha was expressed by Dharmacakra, the footprint, a tree of Buddha, the pedestal, etc., and was not yet expressed as a person image.









 this figures symbolized Buddha  

< 3. this figures symbolized Buddha  >


 .  Yaksi statue of gate of the fence, early the 1st century, a stupa in Sanchi 

< 4. Yaksi statue of gate of the fence, early the 1st century, a stupa in Sanchi >

This female statue is Yaks, and is a goddess of fertility and productiveness.



Yaksi statue, the 2nd century B.C. – the 1st century A.D.  Patna of the eastern part of north India 

< 5. Yaksi statue, the 2nd century B.C. – the 1st century A.D. Patna of the eastern part of north India >

Yaksi statue and native god had been made in about the 1st century B.C.



clay dolls of north India, a doll of the right-side was in about the 3rd century B.C.  Patna Museum

< 6. clay dolls of north India, a doll of the right-side was in about the 3rd century B.C. Patna Museum >

As for being even older than those, the simple female dolls of clay began to be made the eastern part of north India in the middle of the first millennium B.C., and belatedly to be made around Mathura, too.

 Next time, I summarize the birth of Buddha statue.





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Go around the world of Buddha statues 16: the birth of Buddha statues 3

 .  head of a Buddha, 2nd century, Mathura

< 1. head of a Buddha, 2nd century, Mathura >


We have previously looked at Buddha statues that began in Gandhara of Pakistan.

From this issue, we look at Buddha statues that began in Mathura of the inland regions of India.


The Buddha statues that were born in these two places varied in some expression while having the same religious meaning.

There were a fusion of religion and culture, and impulses originating in foreign culture.

Through the artistic expression of the Buddha statue, I investigate the relation of symbol, religion, and culture.









seated Buddha Triad, 2nd century, Ahicchatra 

< 2. seated Buddha Triad, 2nd century, Ahicchatra >




Buddha statue of Mathura

The head of figure 1 is a round face and has thick lip than the heads of Buddha in Gandhara, and is tonsured and rolls up long remainder hair.

The heads of Buddha in Gandhara bundle up rich rippling hair.

The Mathura statues used red sandstone and the Gandhara statues used black schist.

The Buddha statue of figure 2 has the oldest form of Mathura unlike Gandhara.

It are features that the head that I mentioned above, the thin clothes that hung only on unilateral shoulder, and the homely expression giving you a sense of vitality.

Although there was also the seated Buddha Triads in Gandhara, this triad is not known whether two attendant statues of the right and the left are Deva (Indra, Brahma) or Bodhisattva.

The left statue has a Vajra( beetle) that Indra should have, but wears a scarf and a short breechcloth.

Therefore it is subject to the influence of western Gandhara.












standing Buddha, 2nd century, Mathura

< 3. standing Buddha, 2nd century, Mathura >


The expression of the swelling of clothes at the statue’s neck and the hanging the clothes on the both shoulders is the same as Gandhara.

At a later time, Gupta Empire reaching prosperity of Buddhist art inherits the expression of U-shaped pleats of the cloth that hung down from the front.





head of a Bodhisattva, 2nd century, Mathura

< 4. head of a Bodhisattva, 2nd century, Mathura >


 seated Buddha, 3rd century, Saheth-Maheth

< 5. seated Buddha, 3rd century, Saheth-Maheth >

The head hair of this statue becomes a lot of small and spiral hair and the cross-legged pose lacks total balance because the legs are short.

With the decline of Kushan Empire, the stylization might have advanced.





The feature of Mathura Buddha statue

The Gandhara Buddha statue meditates, but the early Mathura Buddha statue opens the eyes.

Gandhara Buddha statue has sloping shoulders, but Mathura Buddha statue has square shoulders, therefore it is healthy image.

Most of seated Buddha statues in Gandhara link the both hands, but most of things in Mathura raise the right hand and turn the palm of the hand at the front.

This is a meaning that removes people’s fear and uneasiness.


Next time, I look at why Buddha statue was born in Mathura.












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Go around the world of Buddha statues 15: the birth of Buddha statues2


< 1. a biography of Buddha “ first meeting with the Brahman, 2nd century, Gandhara, stone relief >

This is a scene that Buddha who has become a priest asks a famous hermit, and asks an instruction.




I investigate why Buddha statue was born in Gandhara.




.  Butkara ruins, Gandhara, Swat valley, Pakistan 

< 2.   Butkara ruins, Gandhara, Swat valley, Pakistan >

Above: many pedestals of stupas were built after the 3rd century B.C.

Below: sculptures remain at lateral sides of the pedestals.


上: 紀元前3世紀から建設されたストゥーパの基壇が並んでいる。

下: 人物像が基壇側面に残っている。多くが剥がされた。


.  a stupa 

< 3. a stupa >


What was happening in India?

Buddha died in the 5th century B.C.

In the 3rd century B .C., Emperor Ashoka of Mauryan Empire that ruled whole India protected Buddhism.

Across the country, he built many stupas (huge circle mound) that ashes of Buddha were rested in.

Before long, people who worshiped Buddha increased around those stupas.

Then it became necessary to explain the biography of Buddha to the people who visited to the stupas.

Believers donated relief engravings of the biography of Buddha around the stupas.


Priests who were following the teaching and religious precepts of Buddha were not concerned with those stupas and lived in monastic building.

Hinayana Buddhism was born from this group after that.

The group that had led the believers gathering in the stupas produced Mahayana Buddhism after that.

Just about, such a thing had been happening in whole India at about first century B.C.
















a map of power relationships, red circle shows Gandhara 

< 4. a map of power relationships, red circle shows Gandhara >

Above: Mauryan Empire, the 4th ~2nd century B.C.

Below: Indo-Parthian Kingdom, 1st century B.C.






What was happening in Gandhara?

Gandhara was located in the valley of upper portion of Indus, and was a key place of transportation that connected with India, Central Asia and Iranian plateau.

Therefore this area was invaded by Persia, subsequently, Alexander the Great, and additional the many nomadic tribe of Central Asia.

On the other hand, this rooted here the culture of Persia and Greece, and the fusion with Indian culture progressed.

Just the 1st century, Iranian nomad (Indo-Parthian Kingdom) ruled this area, and the fine arts of the West were established.

Therefore Greece and Iranian fine arts were incorporated into the relief engravings of the stupas.










a biography of Buddha” Brahma and Indra entreat Buddha to preach, about 1st century, Gandhara 

< 5. a biography of Buddha” Brahma and Indra entreat Buddha to preach, about 1st century, Gandhara >


What appeared first?

No. 5 is an oldest expression of Buddha in Gandhara.

This scene is that important Hindu Gods (Brahma etc.) are entreating seated Buddha to preach.






Buddha triad, the 3rd~4th century, Gandhara 

< 6. Buddha triad, the 3rd~4th century, Gandhara >

Two Bodhisattvas stand on both sides of Buddha.


Also in Mathura of India, Buddha statues were born approximately at the same time.








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Go around the world of Buddha statues 14: the birth of Buddha statues

Maitreya Bodhisattva “弥勒菩薩立像”, the 2nd-3rd century, h.1.5m, stone 

< 1.  Maitreya Bodhisattva “弥勒菩薩立像”, the 2nd-3rd century, h.1.5m, stone >


I have introduced various statues of Asia, and those were created in ancient India.

The birthplace was two places of Gandhara in Pakistan and Mathura in India.

This time, I introduce the statues that were created in Gandhara.


I watched “ the Art of Gandhara, Pakistan, and Mathura, India” in 2003.

When I watched a Buddha statue, I was moved to tears involuntarily.

The life-sized statue was made by black schist, and was lustrous from the shoulder to the chest.

The face was a fine young nobleman style, and there was a meditation world of ancient India and a romance of a mixed civilization in it.

It was felt so that the passion that ancient people had was still confined within the stone statue.













Buddha statue, the 1st- 2nd century, stone 

< 2.  Buddha statue, the 1st- 2nd century, stone >

The Buddha stautue in the round is one of statues that were created for the first time in Gandhara.

The wavelike hair and thick clothes differ from the Buddha statue of East Asia that we know well.

However, how to tie the hair, the point of the forehead, and the downcast-like face have been already expressed.

It shows Buddha is a transcendent existence and philosophizing.







.  Buddha Bodhisattva seated statue, the 2nd- 3rd century, h.0.7m, stone

< 3.  Buddha Bodhisattva seated statue, the 2nd- 3rd century, h.0.7m, stone >

This was a Bodhisattva statue of Buddha, and Maitreya Bodhisattva or Kannon Bodhisattva was made in those days, too.

The Bodhisattva that was meaning disciplinant was expressed with a figure of an imperial family who was decorated with a crown and accessories.

The relief engraving of the pedestal expresses a story of the prince era of Buddha.

It shows that the prince philosophizes about “suffering” while he sat under a tree covering over his head.

This statue and this relief of the pedestal became one set and showed the story of Buddha.








Buddha statue practicing asceticism, the 2nd- 3rd century, stone

< 4.  Buddha statue practicing asceticism, the 2nd- 3rd century, stone  >

This statue expresses Buddha that was practicing asceticism of fasting.

After this practicing, he negated the ascetic practices.

Therefore this expression is rare.





Buddha statues in those days

< 5.  Buddha statues in those days >

Left:  Buddha statue, the 1st- 2nd century, h.1.7m, stone.

Right: Bodhisattva statue, the 3rd century, h.1.3m, stone.


左: 仏立像、1~2世紀、片岩、高さ1.7m。

右: 菩薩立像、3世紀、片岩、高さ1.3m。

heads of statues 

< 6.  heads of statues >

The face and the hairstyle of those heads seem to be associated with west Asia style and Greek style.


Next time, I introduce how Buddha statues were created in Gandhara.









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Go around the world of Buddha statues 13: a table of contents and summary

Gakkō Bosatsu (bodhisattva)

I made a table of contents and each summary of the past articles.

I saw how Buddha statues had evolved into Asia so far.

After this, I will see how Buddha statues were born in India.

 Table of contents and summary







1.       My favorite Buddha statue, and at the beginning of this series / 好きな仏像と連載のはじめに

 Nara prefecture is the birthplace of Japanese Buddha statue, and a lot of Buddha statues of the oldest layer remain.

I introduce Gakkō Bosatsu (bodhisattva) that is a Yakushi Nyorai trinity of early splendid Buddha statues.




2.      The philosophizing statues of Miroku Bosatsu / 思索する菩薩像

 philosophizing statues of Miroku Bosatsu

I see Miroku Bosatsu statues (Maitreya) that give off an aura of Buddhism.

From it, it is visible how the Buddha statue has spread into Asia.




3.       The changes of the Japanese Buddha statue / 日本の仏像の変遷

 Japanese Buddha statue

We look at the change that Buddha statue was becoming sophisticated for around 500 years from when it was introduced into Japan.



4.       Buddha statue of Asia 1 / アジアの仏像 1

 4.	Buddha statue of Asia

 I introduce one representative Buddha statue from India, Sri Lanka, China, and Korea.

These Buddha statues belong to Mahayana Buddhism.




5.       Buddha statue of Southeast Asia  / 東南アジアの仏像

5.	Buddha statue of Southeast Asia

I introduce representative Buddha statues of Southeast Asia and the remains.

In there, Mahayana, Hinayana, and also Hinduism influenced each other, and peculiar Buddha statues were made. 




6.       Buddha statue of a fearful face / 恐い顔の仏像

 6.	Buddha statue of a fearful face

I introduce Four Heavenly Kings and Kongorikishi in Japan.

I realized something depending on comments in my blog that were written by person of Africa and US.

The fearful face that I thought natural was exceptional in the eyes of the world.

In later 9-12 episodes, I investigate the difference of Buddha statue expression between Korea and Japan, and the reason of the fearful face.







7.       Various Buddha statues in Japan / 日本の仏像 さまざまな仏像

 6.	Buddha statue of a fearful face

Although Buddha and bodhisattva are central Buddha statues, there are many kinds of other Buddha statues, and they are adored and are collecting faith.



8.       Various Buddha statues in Japan2  / 日本の仏像 様々な表現

 6.	Buddha statue of a fearful face

I approach the difference in Buddha statues expression.

I introduce the Wisdom King (Myouou) that is like an originator of fearful face, the statue that attains to the extreme of realistic representation, and the statue that is also adored widely in present day, etc. 




9.       the statues of Korea and Japan / 韓国と日本の仏像

 9.	the statues of Korea

 I look at the difference of Buddha statues among Japan, China and Korea.



10. the statues of Korea and Japan 2 / 韓国と日本の仏像 2

 the statues of  Chaina

 I introduce Four Heavenly Kings and Kongorikishi of countries.

In addition, I look at the influence of the Buddha statue of Tibet.




11. the statues of Korea and Japan 3 / 韓国と日本の仏像 3

 the statues of  Chaina

I investigate a background that Buddha statue expression was differing between Japan and South Korea.



12. the statues of Korea and Japan 4 / 韓国と日本の仏像 4

12.	 the statues of Korea

Two nations that were only separated with Tsushima Strait took charge of the different history, and then they produced the different Buddha statue expression.

 Thank you for visiting until now.

From now on, I will investigate the relation of religion and the statue, or the culture and the image.







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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.









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Go around the world of Buddha statues 11: the statues of Korea and Japan 3

 MentuhotepⅡ, Cairo, the 21st century BC 

< 1. MentuhotepⅡ, Cairo, the 21st century BC >   

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


A thing I thought firstly

The above figure was the great king who revived Ancient Egypt that had been in disorder.

When I watched it in Cairo museum once, I felt a sense of incongruity to the thickness of the leg.

It was unbecoming in the wonderful statues of Egypt.

According to one of the reasons, the art seemed to have declined by a long-term disorder of the dynasty.

I thought that expression of the face of the Korean Buddha statues would be the same as the above reason.

It is because Joseon Dynasty abolished many temples and oppressed Buddhism.












Another reason

However, while I investigated, I noticed bigger reason of history and geopolitics.






< 2. Kongorikishi >

A:  Tibet, others are unknown

B:  China, Dun Huang, latter half of the 9th century

C:  China, Beijing, this temple was founded in Yuan Dynasty (the 13~14th century)

D:  Japan, Todai-ji temple, Kamakura period, 1203

 I think the expression of the face of Kongorikishi statues is almost the same in all the areas of Mahayana Buddhism.

The crown of C image resembles the thing of Tibet.

A: チベット、年代不明。

B: 中国、敦煌、9世紀後半。

C: 中国、北京碧云寺、寺創建が元時代(13~14世紀)。

D: 日本、東大寺、鎌倉時代、1203年、運慶・快慶作。



a image that was pictured in a gate of a Buddhist temple in Korea 

< 3. a image that was pictured in a gate of a Buddhist temple in Korea >

Although I see this picture as a soldier of Yuan Dynasty (Mongolia), a Kongorikishi image should usually be pictured here.



Influence of Yuan Dynasty

The 10-14th century was a period when horseback races of the North rose in the whole land of Asia.

The Korean Peninsula had a border with many nations of horseback races at the north edge.

Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) became the Asian greatest empire at last and ruled the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) of Korean Peninsula.

Because this empire recommended Tibetan Buddhism, a common point of the Buddha statues among Tibet, Mongolia, China, and Korean Peninsula was born.

Then the influence remains after the 14th century.


On the other hand, after an extinction of Tang Dynasty (the 10 century), when China came in disorder, Japan entered the closure of the country.

Therefore, Japan of an island country came to develop the different Buddhist art from a continent.










The world before Tang Dynasty

In order to know the influence that the Buddhist art received, I look at the state just before that.




a map in power relationships of Liao and Song Dynasty in 1111

< 4.  a map in power relationships of Liao and Song Dynasty in 1111. Liao is shown with green, and Song is yellow. >

Liao Dynasty(916-1125) had a border with Goryeo Dynasty, and Song Dynasty (960-1276) ) had a border with Liao.

Tang Dynasty was apt to be thought to be the golden age of the Buddhist art.

But, in the times of Song and Liao of horseback races, furthermore the superior arts were made.

To be continued later.





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Go around the world of Buddha statues 10: the statues of Korea and Japan 2

Wisdom King(Myouou) of Tibet

< 1. a Wisdom King(Myouou) of Tibet >

The last time, I found that the statues of Korea and Japan in after ages have been different between those.

When the Buddha statue was brought from China to both countries, it was seldom different.

I infer why the difference appeared.





Look at Four Heavenly Kings of Japan



 Earliest statues of Four Heavenly Kings  

<  Earliest statues of Four Heavenly Kings  >

Left  :  Horyu-ji, Nara, Asuka period, about 650 years.

Right :  Tima-ji, Nara, Asuka period, the 7th century.

The left is earliest statue in Japan, and has a gentle face.

The right is the second oldest statue, opens a mouth a little, and has severe expression of the face.

This seems to be on the way to the statue that would have a raging face, as the images below indicates.

左: 法隆寺、奈良、飛鳥時代、650年頃。

右: 当麻寺、奈良、飛鳥時代、7世紀。




 statues of a raging face in Japan

< 3.  statues of a raging face in Japan >

Left  :  Four Heavenly Kings in To-ji, the 9th century.

Right : Varjrapani(Shitukongoushin) in Hokke-do, the 8th century.

左: 東寺の四天王像、9世紀。

右: 法華堂の執金剛神、8世紀。

How about in ancient China?



 中国 金剛力士,  statues of Knogorikishi in China

< 4.  statues of Knogorikishi in China >

left  : Baiseki-zan, Gansu, China, Song period, the 10-12th century.

Right: Guimet Museum, the 7-8th century.

As for statues of Knogorikishi in China, the statues of two above and a below image have common characteristics of a face that goggles and greatly opens mouth.

The statues of Knogorikishi of China in the 7-12 centuries are common to it of Japan after the 8th century about the raging face.

Furthermore, the Four Heavenly Kings of Japan also became the same raging face.

On the other hand, the statues of Four Heavenly Kings of China and Korea goggle but haven’t raging face compared with the statues of Knogorikishi.


左: 麦積山、甘粛省、宋時代らしい、10~12世紀。

右: ギメ美術館、7~8世紀。





中国 韓国 statues of Knogorikishi and Four Heavenly Kings

< 5. statues of Knogorikishi and Four Heavenly Kings >

Upper :  Longmen Grottoes, China, the 7th century. The left is Four Heavenly Kings. The right is Knogorikishi.

Lower : Four Heavenly Kings, Korea. The left is in Beomeosa temple. The right is in Pulguksa temple.

It seems that the difference with the statues of the Four Heavenly Kings in both countries was generated along the way in each of Korea and Japan.


上: 龍門石窟、中国、7世紀、左は四天王、右は金剛力士。

下: 四天王、韓国、製作年代不明。左は梵魚寺、右は仏国寺。




Were the Buddha statues of Korea affected by others?



チベット 菩薩  Bodhisattvas in Tibet and Korea

< 6.  Bodhisattvas in Tibet and Korea >

Left  :  India.

Right :  Eunhaesa Temple, Korea, Joseon period, the 15th century.

There is a common appearance in between two statues with the crown and the decoration, and there isn’t it in the Japanese Bodhisattva statues.

The crown of this Korean Bodhisattva statue seems to appear since Kingdom of Joseon came into existence.

左図: ラダック、インド、所蔵寺院と製作年代不明。

右図: Eunhaesa Temple, 韓国、朝鮮王朝時代、15世紀。



 モンゴル 四天王 Four Heavenly Kings in Mongolia

< 7.  Four Heavenly Kings in Mongolia >

The musical instrument that the left statue has, the crown that the right statue wears, and the figuration of eyes are common appearance in Four Heavenly Kings of Korea, and there isn’t it in Japan.

Furthermore, the crown is the same as it of Bodhisattva statue of Tibet.

This shows that an incident to affect a broad area including Tibet, Mongolia and Korean Peninsula had happened before Kingdom of Joseon began.


Next time, I look at the big incident and the influence of it.










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