A Chameleonic Icon: Questioning the Underground Christian Identity of an Edo-period Amida Sculpture in the Nyoirin Kannon-dō, Kawaguchi City
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In 1956, a statuette of a female deity and crucifix were discovered inside of a seventeenth-century Amida Buddha statue enshrined in the Nyoirin Kannon-dō, Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan (“Kawaguchi Amida”). This thesis problematizes the methodology currently employed in the study of Japanese Christian-related objects. Thus far, research on the Kawaguchi Amida has considered it exclusively as a rare Christian artifact, connecting it to a local woman who escaped the 1623 martyrdom in Edo. No studies have yet focused on its role within a Buddhist context. This thesis first of all identifies the female statuette—presently attributed as a "Maria Kannon"—as Kishimojin. It then examines the nested configuration of the Kawaguchi Amida, including the votive shrine that contained it and the caches found inside, through preceding Japanese Buddhist sculptural practices, providing a more nuanced analysis of its identities as a variegated Underground Christian and Buddhist statue.
- Theses and Dissertations