Kyoto's Sanju Sangen Do Hall
The offical name of Sanju-sengen-do is Rengeo-in Temple, and the structure is registered as a National Treasure by the Japanese government. It was established by the powerful warrior-politican Taira-no-Kiyomori in 1164. The original temple building was lost in a fire, but the building was reconstructed in 1266. That structure has remained unchanged for 700 years since then with four great renovations during that period. The long temple hall, which is about 120 meters long, is made in the Wayo (Japanese) style architecture. As there are theirty-three spaces between columns, this temple came to be called "Sunju-sangen-do" (a hall with thirty-three spaces between columns - did we just say that?). Other noteworthy objects in this temple are the roofed earthen fence and the South Gate, which are registered as Important Cutural Properties. They are noted in connection with Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi and reflect the asthetics of the 16th century.
The principal attraction of the Sanju-sangen-do temple are the 1001 statues of the buddhist diety, Juichimen-senju-sengen Kanzeon, which is often called by the simplified name, Kannon. In addition there is the single gigantic seated statue placed at the center of the the standing statues. The statues are made of Japanese cypress. Among the standing statues, 124 were made in the 12th century when this temple was founded, and the remaining 876 were made in the 13th century when the temple was renovated.
Along with the buddhas, you will find the 28 guardian deities of Kannon. Placed in a stright line in front of the 1001 Kannon statues, these guardians protect the Buddhist deity Kannon as well as pious buddhists who believe in Kannon. Many of these deities, whose mythic images are expressed in a vivid manner, have their origin in ancient India. Technically these statues are made in an assembled contruction method. Arms and heads are carved seperately, then joined together, coated with lacquer, and finished by coloring.
Two of the more popular Guardians are the statues of the Thunder and Wind Gods. These powerful and dynamic statutes are placed at either side of the temple hall on raised pedestals of cloud shape. The images of these gods derived from people's fear of and gratitude for nature in the old days. People worshipped them as deities who controlled rain and wind, and brought about good harvests. These statues are representative of masterpiece sculptures of the Kanakura perios( 12th-13th century).
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