Photo source: Kofuku-ji temple

Head of Yakushi

Kofuku-ji Temple
Nara, Japan

This remarkable, large bronze head of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing, was cast sometime between 678 and 685, when its triad was installed at Yama-dera temple in Asuka. Appropriated by the monks of Kofuku-ji in 1187 as a replacement for statues destroyed in the Heike war, it remained on view until the East Golden Hall was destroyed by lightning in 1411. The head was salvaged and stored under a platform, where it lay forgotten until its rediscovery in 1937. Its style, with full face and sharp-edged features, is influenced by early Tang. The statue was originally gilded, with a crystal urna (wisdom mark) on its forehead.