kebutsu 化仏
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Also oukebutsu 応化仏, hengebutsu 変化仏, ousin 応身, or keshin 化身. Sk: nirmana-buddha. Lit. transformed Buddha. A small Buddhist image attached to a larger image which is a manifestation of a *nyorai 如来 that has transformed into another body and is represented along with an associated Buddha or bodhisattva. Buddhist deities can assume many forms in order to save sentient beings and the kebutsu is an example of this benevolent transformation. The term kebutsu appears to have been used in sutra commentaries, for example the BISHAMONRON 毘沙門論, as early as the beginning of the 11c. The most best-known example is probably the small figure of *Amida 阿弥陀 on the front of the crown of *Kannon 観音. The seven small Buddha images on the halo *kouhai 光背 of the Yakushi nyoraizou 薬師如来像 at Shin'yakushiji 新薬師寺, and the numerous Buddha figures on the halo of *Rushanabutsu 盧遮那仏 at Toushoudaiji 唐招提寺, both in Nara, are also well-known examples of the kebutsu. One of the attributes held in the hands of *Senju Kannon 千手観音, is a small image of Amida, considered to be a kebutsu. The small Buddha images that are depicted coming out of the mouth of the images of the famous Buddhist leaders, such as Kuuya Shounin 空也上人 at Rokuharamitsuji 六波羅密寺 Kyoto (early 13c), are kebutsu which serve to represent the syllables of the nenbutsu 念仏 or recitation of Amida's name. The term kebutsu is also applied to the small heads displaying various emotional states that are arranged on top of the main head of *Juuichimen Kannon 十一面観音.


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