Item: Bodhisattva Earth Repository
Specs: 20.5 cm by 6.7 cm
Regional Feature: Japan China
A bodhisattva said to have been entrusted by Shakyamuni with the task of saving people during the period from Shakyamuni’s death until the enlightenment of Bodhisattva Maitreya. According to the Advent of Maitreya Sutra, Maitreya will make his advent as the next Buddha 5,670 million years after Shakyamuni’s death. Bodhisattva Earth Repository was originally an earth god in Indian mythology, and in China he came to be revered as a bodhisattva. The Sanskrit name Kshitigarbha represents the power and function of the earth. Kshiti means earth, soil, or abode. Garbha means the womb, which symbolizes fertility, protection, and nourishment. Belief in Bodhisattva Earth Repository prevailed in China during the T’ang dynasty (618–907) and was introduced to Japan in the Nara period (710–794), where it won acceptance among the nobility in the Heian period (794–1185). In the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and after, it spread gradually, and Earth Repository became an object of traditional folk belief. He is said to have the power of granting long life and easy childbirth. Because of the many forms he assumes in order to save people, he is sometimes called “Earth Repository of a Thousand Forms.” He is usually depicted as a monk with a staff in his right hand and a jewel in his left.