Jizo

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Jizo-osorezan-jpatokal.jpg
Jizo statue at Mt. Osore, Japan

Jizō (地蔵) is the Japanese name of a popular Mahayana Buddhist Bodhisattva, usually depicted as a monk. Jizo's name (Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha, Chinese: 地藏 Dzng) may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", or "Earth Womb."

Statues of Jizo can be found throughout Japan, especially in cemeteries, since he is believed to be the protector of people condemned to Hell. He is also associated with stillborn, miscarried, and aborted fetuses who, in Japanese tradition, receive Divine punishment for bringing grief to their parents. He is also the protective deity of travellers, and roadside statues of Jizo are a common sight in Japan.

As Ti Tsang (Di Zang) he is also quite popular in Taiwan (where he is often appealed to for protection against earthquakes), Hong Kong, with Overseas Chinese and increasingly on the Chinese mainland.

Contents

Iconography

In Buddhist iconography, Jizo is typically depicted with a shaven head, dressed in a monk's simple robes (unlike most other bodhisattva, who are dressed like Indian royalty). In his left hand, Jizo holds the wish-granting jewel Cintamani; in his right hand, he holds a shakujo (jingle staff), used to alert insects and small animals of his approach, so that he will not accidentally harm them. Such a staff is traditionally carried by high ranking monks of Chinese Buddhist temples. In Japan Jizo is almost always depicted in a standing position; the posture of the adjacent picture is rather unusual.

Like other Buddhist deities Jizo stands upon a lotus base, symbolizing his release from the karmic wheel of rebirth. Jizo's face and head are also idealized, featuring the third eye, elongated ears and the other standard attributes of an enlightened being.

Popular iconography

Red-bibbed Jizo statues in
Enlarge
Red-bibbed Jizo statues in Nikko

In Japan, statues of Jizo are often adorned with small red caps and bibs, often made and donated by bereaved mothers. This practice may have been adopted by the Maneki Neko. Jizo's features are also commonly made more babylike in order to resemble the children he protects. In China, he is represented as looking like a normal Buddhist monk.

Kokuzo

Jizo has a twin known as Kokuzo (虚空蔵 kokūzō, Ch. Xūkōngzng, Sanskrit Akasagarbha), the "Void Store". While theologically equally important, Kokuzo entirely lacks the popular cult of Jizo.

External links

ja:地蔵菩薩zh:地藏菩萨

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