gyokugan 玉眼
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Lit. crystal eyes. Eyes made of crystal which were inserted into the head of a wooden buddhist statue in order to produce a realistic appearance. The term is also applied to the technique of inserting the eyes. The perforated eye-sockets were made in the hollowed *uchiguri 内刳 head of a wooden statue. Transparent lens-shaped crystals (or more rarely glass), painted with the pupils on their backsides, were placed into the eye-sockets from inside, with a backing of white paper or cotton, then stabilized with pieces of wood and bamboo pegs. The Amida Triad *Amida sanzon 阿弥陀三尊 dating to 1151 in Chougakuji 長岳寺, Nara, is the earliest dated extant example. With the development of the hollow joined-block technique *yoseki-zukuri 寄木造, crystal eyes became very popular and are found in most wooden sculpture after the 12c. Although the technique of applying black stone eyes from outside hitomikannyuu 瞳嵌入 was used in China and imported to Japan in the Nara period, transparent crystal eyes are uniquely Japanese, exemplifying the independent development of Japanese sculpture.


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