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Japanese Shinto gods Amida and Xaca or Shaka

Japanese Shinto gods Amida and Xaca or Shaka


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Japanese Shinto gods Amida and Xaca or Shaka

Japanese Shinto gods Amida (dog-headed god on a multi-headed horse) and Xaca (old man seated on cushion). The names reference Amitabha and Shaka, Gautama Buddha, Buddhist deities. Handcoloured copperplate engraving by Andrea Bernieri from Giulio Ferrrarios Costumes Antique and Modern of All Peoples (Il Costume Antico e Moderno di Tutti i Popoli), Florence, 1842

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Media ID 23173008

© Florilegius/Mary Evans

Amida Amitabha Antique Buddha Buddhist Cushion Deity Ferrrario Gautama Giulio Shinto Dog Faced Shaka


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EDITORS COMMENTS
This exquisite handcoloured copperplate engraving by Andrea Bernieri, from Giulio Ferrario's "Costumes Antique and Modern of All Peoples" (published in Florence, 1842), offers a captivating portrayal of two revered deities from the rich tapestry of Japanese religious tradition: Amida and Xaca, or Amida Nyorai and Shaka Nyorai, as they are known in Buddhism. Amida Nyorai, depicted as a dog-headed god riding a multi-headed horse, is a manifestation of Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Infinite Life. In Japanese Shinto and Buddhist syncretism, Amida came to be regarded as a Shinto deity, with the dog head symbolizing his protective and benevolent nature. The six heads of the horse represent the six realms of existence, reflecting Amida's all-encompassing compassion. Seated on a cushion, with a serene expression, is Xaca Nyorai, or Shaka Nyorai, another significant figure in Japanese religious culture. Originally the historical Gautama Buddha, Xaca Nyorai is venerated as the founder of Buddhism and the embodiment of enlightenment. In this image, he is shown in his traditional Buddhist attire, with a monk's robe and a serene expression, symbolizing wisdom and compassion. This image not only showcases the intricate details of Japanese artistry during the 19th century but also highlights the syncretic nature of Japanese religious beliefs, where Shinto and Buddhist deities coexist and influence one another. The harmonious blend of these two faiths is beautifully encapsulated in the depiction of Amida and Xaca, two revered figures from Japan's rich spiritual heritage.

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