My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sekibutsu - Stone Carvings of Buddha.

   In my post Shrines and Temples, I commenced with the comment "....will notice a common denominator in most of my reports. That is, I have included a visit to a Shrine and/or Temple". But, what I omitted to include, were Sekibutsu  and Magaibutsu. Both Stone Carvings of Buddha.
   So, what is the difference? Well not very much really.It's a bit like asking, what is the difference between a canoe and a kayak? A Sekibutsu is described as a free-standing Buddhist Image carved in stone whereas, a Magaibutsu is a Buddhist image carved on large rock outcrops, cliffs or caves.

The Sekibutsu in the photo on the left, is "Warai", which means laughing/happy/smiling in Japanese. The image is of Buddha sitting in the Lotus Position on a Water Lilly. This is one of the most famous of the stone carvings in the area and, for obvious reasons, attracts a lot of visitors.

The photo on the right is a magnificent example of Magaibutsu and is situated just below the summit of Mt Kasagi, in Kasagi Town, Kyoto Prefecture. It is so tall it is difficult to photograph the whole rock.
   This brings me to their purpose. Which, for some reason, I cannot find any information explaining why. One could say they are a form of Tagging, (please don't quote me on that) as they can be found throughout Japan, with Kyushu having the greatest concentration of these carvings, including the famous stone Buddhas of Usuki, estimated to have been carved in the 12th century. Another theory is that they are a place of worship, which is evident by the small vase and Offerings found at some sites. In some cases caves were carved
with Buddha Images, as in the next photo, large 
enough for worshipers to enter and be used as Temples. These were called Sekkutsu jiin or Cave Temple. This one is located just outside Nara City. There are about three caves like this one in close proximity.

Then there are the Shintou bijutsu, in the image on the left, which were produced and placed at the outskirts of a village to ward-off evil and sickness. On my travels I quite often come-across these. This particular one, on the outskirts of the village of Kasagi, I came across quite by accident. I was on a hike from Kasagi to Kizu when I stopped for a refreshment stop and, there it was.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Just as I was about to sign-off, I nearly forgot to tell you about these fellas. The Jizo is one of the most loved of all the Japanese Divinities and you will come-across them everywhere and they come in all shapes-and-sizes. Their main aim is to ease the pain and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell as-well-as to answer the prayers for the living for health, success, children and all manner of partitions.

Often cute and cartoon like, as in the image on the right, the Jizo can be found dressed in a red apron, bib and cap.
   What is it that make the Sekibutsu appeal to me? As-much-as I appreciate the fact they are religious icons, and places of worship, I regard them more as a work-of-art. Although I don't know the first thing about art - I can't tell the difference between a Monet or a Constable - but, what I do know, is that I appreciate what I am looking at. I am continually fascinated at how someone can take an image, consign it to memory then, at a later date, reproduce this on whatever medium, in this case, rock 
   During my travels I have come across many Sekibutsu (my photo-album of Sekibutsu contains over 60 images) and, as much as I would like to share my images of them with you, this post wouldn't have the space to show them all. So instead, I will share an "Everytrail Trip" I composed. 


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