Photo source: Sanjusangen-do temple

1001 Kannon

Sanjusangen-do Temple, Kyoto

There are 500 Kannon to the left of the central image, arranged in ten rows of 50 each. They are balanced by another 500 Kannon to the right of the central image. Of the original 1000 small Kannon, 876 date from the Kamakura reconstruction of the temple (1251-1266), including nine by Tankei. The remaining 124 are original (mid-12th century.) All were constructed with yosegi technique, like the large Kannon.

Lined up in front of the Kannon are 28 "followers of Kannon" (Nijuhachibu-shu), guardian deities who personify qualities such as wisdom, mercy, etc. The wooden statues are from the Kamakura period. Their arms and heads were made separately. After joining them to the body, the statues were coated with lacquer and then colored.

Since each of the 1,001 Kannon has 33 incarnations (represented by the 33 bays of the Hondo), symbolically there are 1,001x33 = 33,033 ways in which Kannon can help mankind.