PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION OF BUDDHIST FIGURES FORMERLY IN THE COLLECTION OF THE CHANG FOUNDATION
Ksitigarbha, or Dizangwang in Mandarin, is one of the four most popular bodhisattvas in Chinese Buddhism, alongside Avalokiteshvara, Samantabhadra, and Manjushri. Each deity is believed to reside on one of the four sacred mountains, Jiuhuashan being the residence of Ksitigarbha. The Kstigarbha Sutra is thought to have been translated into Chinese from its original Sanskrit during the Tang dynasty, and the first Chinese images of the deity originate in this period. The quantity of images at Dunhuang, as well as surviving bronzes, show an early appreciation for the bodhisattva. Ksitigarbha is often shown with a five-point crown, a cintamani pearl, and a khakara staff.
The sutra of Ksitigarbha explains that the deity was born a Brahmin maiden during mortal life. Her mother committed wrongful acts and when she died, the maiden was afraid for her mother’s fate in the afterlife. She prayed fervently to Buddha. Once during deep meditation, she passed through the gates of an underworld. There she learned that her mother had been pulled out from the depths and saved, thanks to the daughter's efforts and offerings. The maiden was so moved by the plight of the wretched souls she saw in the hellish underworld that she vowed to save them all. Manjushri then declared that the maiden was Ksitigarbha bodhisattva, a savior of lost souls.
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