Shaka 釈迦
KEY WORD :  art history / 1 iconography ; 2 sculptures
1 Abbreviation of Shakamuni 釈迦牟尼 or Shakamon 釈迦文 (Sk: Sakyamuni), meaning sage of the Sakyas. The name by which the historical Buddha and founder of Buddhism is generally known. His family name was Gautama (Jp: Kudon 瞿曇) and his personal name was Siddhartha (Jp: Shittatta 悉達多). He was born in either the mid-6c or mid-5c. B.C. as the son of King Suddhodana of the Shakya clan near Kapilavastu in present-day Nepal. At the age of 29 he left home to become a mendicant ascetic, and 6 years later attained enlightenment, thereby becoming a Buddha or 'enlightened one'. Thereafter he travelled about central India sharing his wisdom until his death at Kusinagari at the age of 80. Shaka and his life story are central themes in Buddhist art. Episodes from his life were made the subject of various forms of illustrated biographies *butsuden-zu 仏伝図. In India he was initially represented by means of symbols such as the lotus, Dharma-wheel or his footprint *bussokuseki 仏足石, and it was only around AD 100 that he began to be depicted in human form. Individual representations of Shaka also began to be produced, many of them reflecting specific events in his life. The events included: his birth *tanjoubutsu 誕生仏; austerities kugyou Shaka 苦行釈迦, *shussan Shaka 出山釈迦; enlightenment joudou Shaka 成道釈迦: Shaka attaining enlightenment, characterized by the earth-touching mudra *shokuchi-in 触地印 or meditation mudra *zenjou-in 禅定印; teaching ministry seppou Shaka 説法釈迦: Shaka expounding the Dharma, characterized by the mudra for turning the Dharma-weel *tenbourin-in 転法輪印; and death *nehan-zu 涅槃図. He is also often represented either standing or seated with the right hand raised in the mudra for bestowing fearlessness *semui-in 施無畏印 and the left hand lowered in the wish-granting mudra *yogan-in 与願印. Although usually bare-headed and wearing a monk's robes, in a form called houkan Shaka 宝冠釈迦 he wears a bejewelled crown houkan 宝冠. A style of Shaka images peculiar to Japan is the *Seiryoujishiki Shaka 清涼寺式釈迦 copied from the principal image at Seiryouji 清涼寺 in Kyoto, which has rope-like hair. In addition, he may be flanked by 2 attendants in the Shaka triad *Shaka sanzon 釈迦三尊 or accompanied by his Ten Chief Disciples *Juudai deshi 十大弟子, sixteen arhats *juuroku rakan 十六羅漢, eight kinds of gods and demi-gods *hachibushuu 八部衆 or sixteen good gods *juuroku zenshin 十六善神. In China and Japan there is also a pairing of Shaka and Tahou 多宝(Sk: Prabhutar atna) which is based on the Lotus Sutra nibutsu heizazou 二仏並座像 (image of 2 Buddhas sitting side by side; see *nibutsu heiza 二仏並坐). In Esoteric Buddhism mikkyou 密教, Shaka appears in the *Taizoukai mandara 胎蔵界曼荼羅 at the centre of the Shaka-in 釈迦院 (seated with both hands forming the tenbourin-in), and he is also identified with Tenku raion 天鼓雷音 (Sk: Divyadundubhimeghanir ghosa) in the Henchi-in 遍知院 and with Fukuu jouju 不空成就 among the Five Wisdom Tathagatas *gochi nyorai 五智如来 in the *Kongoukai mandara 金剛界曼荼羅. In addition, there is a Shaka mandara 釈迦曼荼羅 dedicated to Shaka, and the Bodaijou manadara 菩提場曼荼羅, *Hokke mandara 法華曼荼羅, Houroukaku mandara 宝楼閣曼荼羅 and *shouugyou mandara 請雨経曼荼羅 are also centered on Shaka.

2 A noh mask *noumen 能面 representing Shakamuni 釈迦牟尼, the Living Buddha. Typical of statues of Shakyamuni, the balanced features have somewhat downward looking eyes, gently closed lips, elongated ears, numerous carved curly locks, a thin, curly mustache and beard, and a jewel in the middle of the forehead. The large scale and depth of the mask reminiscent of gyoudou bosatsu 行道菩薩 masks is actually due to its being worn over the *oobeshimi 大べし見 mask. Used only in the play DAI-E 大会 (The Great Service), Shaka serves as a disguise. A goblin *tengu 天狗 promises a devout priest on Mt. Hiei 比叡 to conjure up a vision of Buddha preaching on Ryoujusen 霊鷲山, and then disguises himself with the shaka mask. Later the god *Taishakuten 帝釈天 disperses the false images and chastises the goblin, who has been forced to remove the shaka mask and disclose his true face. The only other play where masks are layered is GENZAI SHICHIMEN 現在七面 (The Dragoness of Seven Mask pond), where a dragoness *hannya 般若 mask is removed to disclose the goddess *zouonna 増女.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.