The calm, contemplative elegance of Japanese Buddhist sculpture of the late Heian Period (794–1185 B.C.) is embodied in the latest Japanese art acquisition. A Gift of Dr. R. Joseph Monsen, Dr. Elaine R. Monsen, and Maren Grainger-Monsen; longtime friends of the Seattle Art Museum; this Amida Buddha (Amitabha), the Buddha of the Western Paradise, is an exemplary representation of the gilt statues of Amida commissioned by the nobility of that era.
Known for its refined sensibilities, indulgence in pleasures of the senses and keen appreciation for the fleeting qualities of life, the latter period of the Heian period left courtiers remiss to consider existence beyond the splendor of courtly life. Encountering the “latter days of Buddhist law,” individuals of this era relied heavily upon Amida Buddha for their salvation, commissioning works celebrating the glory of Amida and his Western Paradise as a sign of their devotion.
–Melanie King, Interim Curatorial Associate for Japanese and Korean Art
Buddha, late Heian (Fujiwara) period, ca. 1130, Japanese, wood with gold lacquer, 37 1/4 x 27 x 17 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of the Monsen Family, 2011.39, Photo: Elizabeth Mann