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Encyclopedia > Kuratsukuri Tori
The Shaka image of Asukadera, 606
The Shaka image of Asukadera, 606

Tori Busshi (止利仏師) was a Japanese sculptor active in the late 6th and early 7th century. He was from the Kuratsukuri (鞍作, "saddle-maker") clan, and his full title was Shiba no Kuratsukuri-be no Obito Tori Busshi (司馬鞍作部首止利仏師); Busshi is a title meaning "the maker of Buddhist images".[1] By the early 7th century, Tori Busshi had become the favorite sculptor of Soga no Umako and Prince Shōtoku. Such high-ranking patrons indicate that Tori was highly esteemed as an artist and not just an anonymous craftsman.[2] Many extant Asuka period sculptures in gilt bronze are credited to Tori and his workshop. The artist's work epitomizes Japanese sculpture during the era, with its solid, geometric figures in front-oriented, characteristic poses. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (976x1331, 365 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (976x1331, 365 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... An Italian Futurist sculpture by Umberto Boccioni at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MoMA). ... Soga no Umako (蘇我馬子; 551? - 20 May 626), the son of Soga no Iname and the strongest member of Soga clan of Japan, conducted politicial reforms with Prince Shotoku during the rules of Emperors Bidatsu and Suiko, and established Soga clans stronghold in the governemt by having his daughter married... Sculpture of Prince Shotoku in Asuka Dera, Asuka, Nara Prince Shōtoku (聖徳太子 574-622) was a regent and a politician of the Imperial Court in Japan. ... The Asuka period (Japanese: 飛鳥時代, Asuka-jidai) is the period in Japanese history occurring from AD 538–710. ... Assorted ancient bronze castings found as part of a cache, probably intended for recycling. ...


Life and works

Tori's grandfather was a Chinese man named Shiba Tatto who immigrated to Japan in 522. Shiba and his son, Tasuna, were both saddle makers. The position was hereditary, and the ornamentation common for saddles at the time familiarized them and young Tori with metal casting, lacquer working, and wood carving.[1] Records indicate that in 588, Tasuna may have become a Buddhist monk and carved a wooden Buddha statue.[3] In a general sense, lacquer is a clear or colored coating, that dries by solvent evaporation only and that produces a hard, durable finish that can be polished to a very high gloss, and gives the illusion of depth. ... Carved wooden cranes Wood carving is the process whereby wood is ornamented with any design, by means of sharp cutting tools held in the hand. ...

Tori Busshi's first known work is a bronze Shaka image of Asuka-dera, Asuka, Nara Prefecture, which he finished in 606.[4] The work made a favorable impression on Empress Suiko, and she granted Tori lands and rank equivalent to those of someone of the later fifth grade.[5] Tori also produced an embroidered wall hanging this year. Assorted ancient bronze castings found as part of a cache, probably intended for recycling. ... Only known drawing of Shaka - some details like the spear and feather may be fanciful Shaka (sometimes spelled Tshaka, Tchaka or Chaka; ca. ... Ishibutai Kofun, believed to be burial site of Soga no Umako Asuka (明日香村; -mura) is a village located in Takaichi District, Nara, Japan. ... Nara Prefecture (奈良県; Nara-ken) is part of the Kinki region on Honshu Island, Japan. ...

The Yakushi Nyorai (Buddha of healing) of Wakakusa-dera is often attributed to Tori Busshi. The work was done in 607 at the request of Emperor Yōmei and Prince Shōtoku for the newly established Wakakusadera.[6] Attribution of the work to Tori comes from an inscription on the back of the Buddha's halo. However, this inscription was probably done later than 607, which leads many scholars to speculate that the extant work is a copy of an original that may have been lost in a temple fire in 670.[7] Nevertheless, art historians such as Seiroku Noma hold that only Tori Busshi had the skill necessary to do the piece.[2] The work is now in the Hōryū-ji, Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture. Bhaisajyaguru (藥師佛/薬師 Ch. ... Emperor Yōmei Emperor Yōmei (用明天皇 Yōmei Tennnō) (died 587) was the 31st imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. ... Halo around the sun at the South Pole (NOAA) A halo (also known as a nimbus or Gloriole) is a ring of light that surrounds an object. ... Horyu-ji. ... Categories: Towns in Nara Prefecture | Japan geography stubs ...

Art historians regularly name the Shaka Triad of Hōryūji as Tori's masterpiece.[6] An inscription on the back of the halo states that Empress Suiko (r. 593-629) and other courtiers commissioned the piece after the deaths of two notable court ladies in 621 and the sickness of Shōtoku and his consort the following year. The piece was intended to either help speed their recovery or ease their rebirth into paradise. The prince and consort died in 622, and Tori's workshop finished the statue the following year.[6] Originally, the term masterpiece (or chef doeuvre) referred to a piece of handicraft art produced by a journeyman aspiring to become a master craftsman in the old European guild system, which is partially retained today only in Germany. ... Empress Suiko (推古天皇) (554-628) was the 33rd imperial ruler of Japan and the first woman to hold this position. ... In the Indian religions Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, nirvāna (from the Sanskrit निर्वाण, Pali: Nibbāna -- Chinese: 涅槃; Pinyin: niè pán), literally extinction and/or extinguishing, is the culmination of the yogis pursuit of liberation. ...

The Kannon of Yumedono at Hōryūji is also in Tori Busshi's style, although it is unknown if his studio created the statue.[8] Kuan Yin (Pinyin: Guanyin; also written Kwan Yin or in other variants which hyphenate or remove the space between the two words) is the bodhisattva of compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists. ...

Sculptural style

Tori's works exemplify Japanese Buddhist art during the Asuka period.[2] His style ultimately derives from that of the Chinese Wei kingdom of the late 4th to 6th century. This style was intended for sculpting rock in caves, and even though Tori and his assistants sculpted in clay for bronze casting, his pieces reflect the Chinese front-oriented design and surface flatness.[9] By Tori's day, Chinese sculptors had adopted a more realistic style, but Tori probably took his cue from traditionalist Korean Buddhists from the kingdom of Paekche.[10] What distinguishes Tori's works is that it conveys peace and softness despite a rigid adherence to stock poses and geometrical features.[11] The Asuka period (Japanese: 飛鳥時代, Asuka-jidai) is the period in Japanese history occurring from AD 538–710. ... Northern Wei Buddha Maitreya, 443 AD. A Buddhist stela from the Northern Wei period, build in the early 6th century. ... Baekje was a kingdom that existed in southwestern Korea from 18 BCE to 660 CE. Together with Goguryeo and Silla, Baekje is known as one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. ...

Tori's Buddha figures sit with an upright posture and crossed legs, their robes cascading down the body in regular, well defined folds. The geometric shapes underlying the sculptures appear in their triangular silhouettes and give them a look of tranquility and steadiness.[2] Each Buddha's right hand is raised with the palm toward the viewer in the semui-in (Sanskrit: abhayamudra) style, conveying the Buddha's power to aid others. The left hand rests on the left leg, palm up, in the seganin (Sanskrit: varadamudra) style; this indicates the ability to lead the viewer along the path to end all suffering. Each Buddha's head is elongated, topped with curls of hair known as shōgō (Sanskrit: lakshana) that indicate the Buddha's perfect nature. Their faces are composed of smooth planes pierced only by slitlike nostrils, eyes, and eyebrows.[12] Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम्) is an Indo-European classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ... In the context of Hinduism, Abhayamudra, that is, the gesture of reassurance and safety, is a hand pose, which dispels fear and accords divine protection and bliss to the devotee. ...

The Shaka Triad in particular is an example of a mature Wei style.[6] The sculpture features a Buddha figure similar to that of the earlier Shaka statue, seated on a rectangular dais. This Buddha's robes flow down the front of the platform and betray the weightiness of the figure. A series of animated elements contrast the serene and regular Buddha. His head is surrounded by a flaming halo, in which are seated the Seven Buddhas of the Past (previous incarnations of Buddhahood preceding Shaka). A jewel of flames on an inverted lotus blossom, representing the wisdom of the Buddha, appears above the Shaka's head, and its leafed vine encircles the Buddha's head.[6]


  1. a b Mason 70.
  2. a b c d Noma 36.
  3. Mason 70-1.
  4. Paine and Soper 30.
  5. Paine and Soper 30, 32.
  6. a b c d e Mason 73.
  7. Mason 80.
  8. Sadao 42.
  9. Paine and Soper 32.
  10. Mason 72.
  11. Mason 72-3.
  12. Mason 71-2.


  • Mason, Penelope (2005). History of Japanese Art. 2nd ed, rev. by Dinwiddie, Donald. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
  • Noma, Seiroku (2003). The Arts of Japan: Ancient and Medieval. Kodansha International.
  • Paine, Robert Treat, and Soper, Alexander (1981). The Art and Architecture of Japan. 3rd ed. Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Sadao, Tsuneko S., and Wada, Stephanie (2003). Discovering the Arts of Japan: A Historical Overview. New York: Kodansha America, Inc.



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