Shaka Buddha

Asuka period, 609 AD.
Asuka-dera, Japan

Remarkably, this large (4.8 meters high) bronze daibutsu dates to the founding of the temple. Cast in 609 by the famous sculptor Tori Busshi ("Master Sculptor Tori"), it is the oldest Buddhist statue in Japan, although it has suffered considerably from fires and repairs. The rectangular shape of the Buddha's head is characteristic of Chinese Northern Wei (386-534) dynasty sculpture. "Shaka" is a Japanese name for Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. His right hand is raised in the "fear not" mudra; his left, extended in the mudra of "giving." There is an honorific canopy, not visible in this photograph, over his head; this refers to Chinese models, including the emperor's hat.