Murouji Temple

Statue of Eleven-Faced Kannon

National Treasure

Surrounded by a resplendent halo painted detailed arabesque and floral embellishments, this statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokita-svara) is an exquisite example of Buddhist sculptor’s craftmanship in the ninth century (Heian period 794-1185). It stands 196.2 centimeters tall and was carved from a single block of Japanese nutmeg(kaya) wood. Eleven faces (Ekādaśa-mukha: eleven faces) mean that all in times Kannon watches people of ten directions world. It has twelve faces in fact. The main head face looks beautiful and feminine. But ten bodhisattva heads around the main head have three each gentle, angry, menacing faces and one loud laugh face. And the top face is Buddha (Tathāgata). It has a water pitcher instead of a lotus flower vase on the left hand. This style is unusual. It means that Murou has been the sacred place of water. As the bodhisattva of affection and compassion, Kannon is believed to save people from every pain and to supply things that they want. The statue is housed in the Treasure Hall from March 2020.