The Sunday Anchoress
SHINTO GODDESS, 1200-1500
Early Kamakura period (1185-133). Wood with traces of color. H: 38 3/16 in. W: 8 1/2 in. D: 4 3/4 in.
It seems to be my week for gods and goddesses. Sculptures of Shinto deities were not common before the mid-1700s, so this one doesn’t have a particular iconography just a goddess designation. They were made to be hidden in private shrines probably for household worship.
It is carved from a single block of wood more than a meter high. She has a Tang dynasty Chinese hairdo but the robe is one that an upper-class Japanese woman of the Nara period would have worn. I guess we aren’t the only society that liked retro things or romanticized earlier periods in art.
She has a quiet, motherly look about her. I can see where a home or palace might like to have her in a shrine cabinet, sort of like an anchoress in a medieval monastery in Christian worship. She has an amused look about her as if she sees what is going on but can’t chastise you for it.
I like that idea of an anchor but a non-judgemental one, like you might expect from a mother. A good feeling for a Sunday.