shishiza 獅子座
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Sk: simhasana. A base *daiza 台座 for a Buddhist image in the form of a lion or supported by lions. Bases which are flanked by lions appear on stone images of Buddha from Mathura in India dating from the 2c to 3c . These figures may be apotropaic in addition to representing the power of the Buddha. An Indian legend holds that the lion was often in attendance on the Buddha. It is also possible that the figures represented on the base may have evolved from the use of lions on early stupa railings. In China there are many extant bronze images of Buddha from the Northern Wei dynasty (4c-6c) with lion figures attached to the base. The 9c Tang dynasty image of Kongou Kokuuzou 金剛虚空蔵 in the collection of Touji 東寺 in Kyoto is seated on a lion throne, while the other four Kokuuzou 虚空蔵 in the group are mounted on different animals. A Japanese example, the image of *Yuima 維摩 from the Toukondou 東金堂 at Koufukuji 興福寺 in Nara dated 1196 by Joukei 定慶 is seated on a chair with a rectangular pedestal that has a lion carved in bas-relief. The shishiza is most often seen in images of the bodhisattva *Monju 文殊. One of the earliest extant Japanese examples is the 10c image at Doganji 渡岸寺 in Shiga prefecture. It has been separated from its rider, but it is thought to have once been the base for an image of Monju. Others include a 10/11c example at Zenjouji 禅定寺 in Kyoto and an 11c images at Chikurinji 竹林寺 in Kouchi prefecture. Images of Monju became more popular in the Kamakura period. The deity *Ichijikinrin 一字金輪 may also ride a lion throne. The well-known images at Chuusonji 中尊寺 in Iwate prefecture (late 12c) sits astride a base encircled by eight lions. However, the current base is a modern reconstruction. Rasetsuten 羅刹天, one of the Twelve Deities *juuniten 十二天 also may appear on a white lion.


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