About this artwork
In Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, female deities play an equally important role as their male counterparts. The earliest surviving sculptures of female Shinto deities date to the ninth century, and they often form a set with a depiction of the male deity Hachiman. In contrast to those of their companion, however, the goddesses’ identities are inexact, and such sculptures show a generic woman of the imperial court in secular dress.
Here the deity’s stiff pose and blocklike shape are reminiscent of other sculptures of this type, but her softened facial features and placid expression make it apparent that the artist was skilled beyond the level of an ordinary provincial sculptor. Her robes contain traces of a floral or medallion design.
- Female Shinto Deity
- Wood with traces of polychromy
- 25 × 17 × 10.8 cm (9 7/8 × 6 6/8 × 4 1/4 in.)
- Purchased with Funds Provided by the Weston Foundation; Alsdorf Acquisition Fund; Russell Tyson Endowment Fund; President's Exhibition and Acquisition Fund