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Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha (Jijang bosal)
Late 13th or early 14th century


Late Goryeo period

Ink, color and gold on silk
H: 107.6 W: 49.4 cm
Korea

Anonymous gift S1992.11

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The Buddhist diety known in Korean as Jijang, or in Sanskrit as Kshitigarbha, was a bodhisattva (enlightened being) revered for his merciful deliverance of living beings from the world of suffering. He was also believed to have the power to rescue those who were unjustly sentenced to hell.

Jijang is customarily portrayed, as in this painting, wearing the garments of a Buddhist monk. His sacred status is represented by a circular halo and the lotus-shaped pedestals on which he stands. In his left hand he holds a staff with six rings, which would announce, through their distinctive sound, the presence of a Buddhist priest; in his right hand he holds a circular gem, which has the power to grant wishes.

Korean Buddhist paintings reached a peak of refinement under the patronage of the kings of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392). The richness and elegance typical of Koryo Buddhist paintings can be seen in Jijang's ornate robes, which are embellished with delicate patterns painted in gold.