Email Site Author Mark Schumacher Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter on Buddhist Statuary spacer
Follow on Social Media
My Wordpress Buddha Statues Blog Follow Me on Facebook Follow Me on Twitter Follow Me on Google + Follow Me on LinkedIn Follow Me on Youtube Free RSS Buddha News Feed 

Japanese Buddhism, Photo Dictionary of Japan's Shinto and Buddhist DivinitiesRETURN TO TOP PAGE of Japanese Buddhist Statuary A to Z Photo Library & Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Shinto Kami, Creatures, and DemonsCopyright and Usage PoliciesJump to Our Online Store Selling Handcrafted Statues
top line
spacer


QUICK START
Home: What's New
Buddha's Teachings
History & Timeline
Historical Buddha
Student's Guide
Teacher's Guide

DEITY GUIDES
Who's Who
Buddha
Bodhisattva
Myo-o
Shinto Kami
Shugendo
Stars & Planets
Tenbu (Deva)

OTHER GUIDES
About Site Author
Bibliography
Buddhism in Japan
Busshi Glossary
Carving Techniques
Cycle of Suffering
Drapery/Robe Guide
Mandala Guide
Mudra Guide
Objects Guide
Pilgrimage Guide
Shinto Guide
Statues by Artist
Statues by Era
Symbols Guide
Terminology

Buddhist-Artwork.com, our sister site, offers online sales of hand-carved wood Buddha statues.
Buddhist-Artwork.com, our sister site, offers online sales of hand-carved wood Buddha statues.

A TO Z INDEX
3 Element Stele
3 Monkeys
4 Bosatsu
4 Celestial Emblems
4 Heavenly Kings
5 (Number Five)
5 Elements
5 Tathagata
5 Tier Pagoda
5 Wisdom Kings
6 Jizo
6 Kannon
6 Realms
6 Nara Schools
7 Lucky Gods
7 Nara Temples
8 Legions
8 Zodiac Patrons
10 Kings of Hell
12 Devas
12 Generals
12 Zodiac Animals
13 Butsu (Funerals)
28 Legions
28 Constellations
30 Buddha of Month
30 Kami of Month
33 Kannon
About the Author
Agyo
Aizen
Amano Jyaku
Amida Nyorai
Apsaras
Arakan (Rakan)
Arhat (Rakan)
Ashuku Nyorai
Asuka Era Art Tour
Asura (Ashura)
Baku (Eats Dreams)
Bamboo
Benzaiten (Benten)
Bibliography
Big Buddha
Birushana Nyorai
Bishamon-ten
Bodhisattva
Bonbori Artwork
Bosatsu Group
Bosatsu of Mercy
Bosatsu on Clouds
Buddha (Historical)
Buddha Group
Buddha Statues
Busshi (Sculptors)
Calligraphy
Celestial Emblems
Celestial Maidens
Children Patrons
Classifying
Color Red
Confucius
Contact Us
Daibutsu
Daijizaiten
Daikokuten
Dainichi Nyorai
Daruma (Zen)
Datsueba (Hell Hag)
Deva (Tenbu)
Donations
Dosojin
Dragon
Drapery (Robes)
Early Buddhism Japan
Ebisu
Eight Legions
En no Gyoja
Estores
Family Tree
Footprints of Buddha
Fox (Inari)
Fudo (Fudou) Myoo
Fugen Bosatsu
Fujin (Wind God)
Fukurokuju
Gakko & Nikko
Gardens
Gigeiten
Godai Nyorai
Goddess of Mercy
Goddesses
Gongen
Gravestones
Hachi Bushu
Hachiman
Hands (Mudra)
Hell (10 Judges)
Hell Hag (Datsueba)
Hell Scrolls
Henge
Hikyu (Lion Beast)
Holy Mountains
Ho-o (Phoenix)
Hotei
Idaten
Inari (Fox)
Ishanaten
Ishidoro (Ishidourou)
Jikokuten
Jizo Bosatsu
Jocho Busshi
Juni Shi
Juni Shinsho
Juni Ten
Junrei (Pilgrimage)
Jurojin
Juuzenji
Jyaki or Tentoki
Kaikei Busshi
Kamakura Buddhism
Kankiten
Kannon Bosatsu
Kappa
Kariteimo (Kishibojin)
Karura
Karyoubinga
Kendatsuba
Kichijouten
Kitchen Gods
Kishibojin (Kariteimo)
Kitsune (Oinari)
Kokuzo Bosatsu
Koujin (Kojin)
Komokuten
Korean Buddhism
Koushin
Lanterns (Stone)
Links
Making Statues
Mandara (Mandala)
Maneki Neko
Marishiten (Marici)
Miroku Bosatsu
Monju Bosatsu
Monkeys
Moon Lodges
Mother Goddess
Mudra (Hands)
Myoken (Pole Star)
Myo-o
Nara Era Art Tour
Newsletter Sign Up
Nijuhachi Bushu
Nikko & Gakko
Ninpinin
Nio Protectors
Nyorai Group
Objects & Symbols
Onigawara
Phoenix (Ho-o)
Pilgrimage Guide
Pottery
Protective Stones
Raigo Triad
Raijin (Thunder God)
Rakan (Arhat)
Red Clothing
Reincarnation
Robes (Drapery)
Rock Gardens
Sanbo Kojin
Sanno Gongen
Sarutahiko
Sculptors (Busshi)
Seishi Bosatsu
Sendan Kendatsuba
Seven Lucky Gods
Shachi, Shachihoko
Shaka Nyorai
Shape Shifters
Shichifukujin
Shijin (Shishin)
Shinra Myoujin
Shinto Clergy
Shinto Concepts
Shinto Kami
Shinto Main Menu
Shinto Sects
Shinto Shrines
Shishi (Lion)
Shitenno
Shoki
Shomen Kongo
Shotoku Taishi
Shrines
Shugendo
Siddhartha
Six States
Star Deities
Stone Gardens
Stone Graves
Stone Lanterns
Stones (Top Menu)
Suijin (Water Kami)
Symbols & Objects
Tamonten
Taishakuten
Tanuki
Temples
Temple Lodging
Tenbu Group
Tengu
Tennin & Tennyo
Tentoki or Jyaki
Terminology
Tibetan Carpets
Tibet Photos
Tibetan Tanka
Transmigration
Ungyo
Unkei Busshi
Videos on Buddhism
Water Basin
Weapons
Wheel of Life
Yakushi Nyorai
Yasha (Yaksha)
Zao Gongen
Zen (Daruma)
Zen Art Tour
Zodiac Calendar
Zochoten

 



 
spacer

English

Japanese

Chinese

Sanskrit / Pali

Korean

Tibetan

Bodhisattva
of Strength

Bosatsu of Wisdom

Seishi 勢至菩薩
Daiseishi 大勢至
Tokudaiseishi 得大勢至
Tokudaisei 得大勢

Shìzhì, Shizhi,
Shih Chih,
Da Shì Zhì,
Ta-shih-chih

महास्थामप्राप्त
Mahasthamaprapta,
Mahāsthāmaprāpta,
Mahasthama

Daeseji bosal,
Dae Sae Zhi

세지

Phyag na rdo rje


Seishi Bodhisattva -- Available for purchase at www.buddhist-artwork.comnspacer Seishi Bosatsu - Japanese spelling
Seishi Bosatsu, Seishi Bodhisattva, Daiseishi
Seishi
勢至 lit. = “to obtain strength”

Origin = India

  • One of two main attendants to Amida Buddha, appearing frequently in artwork known as the Amida Sanzon 阿弥陀三尊 (lit. = Amida Triad). Seishi is typically placed to the right of the central Amida image, but sometimes (e.g., Immeasurable Life Sutra) Seishi appears on the left.
  • One of 25 Bodhisattva who descent from heaven (raigō) with Amida to welcome dying souls into Amida’s Pure Land
  • One of the Thirteen Deities (Jūsanbutsu) of the Shingon sect invoked in memorial services for the departed.
  • One of the Eight Great Bodhisattva (Hachi Daibosatsu or Hachi Bosatsu) who appear in the Taizōkai Mandala and Butsugen Mandala.
  • Guardian of People Born in Zodiac Year of the Horse.
  • In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahāsthāmaprāpta (aka Seishi) is equated with Vajrāpani (aka Niō).
    In Tibet, Vajrāpani is considered an incarnation (manifestation) of Seishi.

Seishi appears in early Mahayana sutras, including the Immeasurable Life Sutra, the Meditation Sutra, and the Lotus Sutra. Seishi did not gain great popularity in India, but in China and Japan, Seishi's importance grew with the spread of the Pure Land sects devoted to Amida Buddha, for Seishi is one of the two main attendants (kyōji 脇侍) of Amida Buddha. The other is Kannon. In Japan, the three appear in a popular grouping known as the Amida Sanzon 阿弥陀三尊 (lit. = Amida Triad), with Amida in the center, Seishi to the right (representing wisdom), and Kannon to the left (representing compassion). Even today, the Pure Land sects of Japan are among the nation’s largest and most popular. Nevertheless, in both China and Japan, Seishi has always been eclipsed in popularity by Kannon (the God/Goddess of Mercy).

Seishi is rarely represented in Japanese sculpture except for the Amida Triad. In triad artwork, Kannon’s crown often contains a small image of Amida, which symbolizes compassion. Seishi’s crown often shows a small water vase (suibyō 水瓶), which symbolizes wisdom, a virtue that is perhaps religiously less significant than compassion, and this may help to explain why Seishi is not widely revered outside of Japan’s Pure Land traditions. Another reason may be the vast popularity once enjoyed by Monju Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of Supreme Wisdom, the Wisest of the Bodhisattva).

Seishi is also one of the 13 Buddha 十三仏 (Jūsanbutsu) of the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō 密教) in Japan. In this role, Seishi presides over the memorial service held on the first-year anniversary following one's death. Seishi is also portrayed in the Rengebu-in 蓮華部院 section of the Womb World Mandala of Japan’s Esoteric sects. In the Lotus Sutra, Seishi is listed among those who assembled on Eagle (Vulture) Peak to listen to the teachings of the Historical Buddha. Eagle Peak is located near the modern-day Indian city of Rajagrha, and is the spot where the Historical Buddha often preached.

Seishi Bosatsu - Japanese mantra

On Sanzansaku Sowaka
(also Om Sanzansaku Sowaka)

Japanese Mantra
for Seishi Bosatsu

bonji-seishi-wood-carving
SAKU (Japanese pronunciation)
Sanskrit Seed Syllable for Seishi Bosatsu

 

Seishi in Japanese Art
Seishi Bodhisattva appears mostly in paintings and sculptures of the Amida Triad, where Amida Buddha is seated in the center, attended by Seishi on the right and Kannon on the left. Seishi is typically depicted with hands held together in prayer (gasshō mudra 合掌), or holding a lotus flower. Sometimes there is a water jar in Seishi's crown (suibyō 水瓶), which represents wisdom. Belief in Amida Buddha and Amida's Pure Land was popular among the Japanese court in the late Heian Period, but it was only in the Kamakura era that Amida faith became popular among the common people.

Amida Nyorai Triad (Sanzon), 1148 AD, Byodo-in Temple
Amida Nyorai Triad (Sanzon)
1148 AD, Byōdō-in Temple
See Bosatsu on Clouds page for more photos and details.
Also see Amida Raigo Triad page for more photos and details.

Amida Trida, by Kaikei, Dated +1197, Jodo-ji Temple, Hyogo Pref.; Photo found on web at www.yamagata-net.jp/usr/yamagu2/bukkyo/page/A0012.html Amida Trida, by Kaikei, Dated +1197, Jodo-ji Temple, Hyogo Pref.; Photo found on web at www.pauch.com/kss/g009.html

Amida Triad by accaimled sculptor Kaikei
Seishi on right, Kannon on left, of the central Amida image (H = 371 cm).
Lacquer and gold leaf over wood. Dated +1197. Jodoji (Jōdoji) Temple 浄土寺, Hyōgo Prefecture.

Raigō 来迎 (Heavenly Descent) & Raigō Artwork
Raigō (Raigo) literally means "coming in welcome." Raigō artwork typically depicts Amida, Seishi, and Kannon descending from the Pure Land (heaven) on clouds to welcome the faithful into Amida's Pure Land of Utmost Bliss (Jp. = Jōdo, Jp. = Gokuraku; Skt. = Sukhavati). Seishi is also counted, along with Kannon, as one of the 25 Bodhisattva 二十五菩薩 (Jp. = Nijūgo Bosatsu) who are often depicted in Japanese paintings of Amida's decent. They join Amida in leading the faithful spirits of the departed back to Amida's Pure Land.

Yamagoe Amida, 13th Century AD, Zenrin-ji Temple
山越阿弥陀図 - Yamagoe Amida
Lit. = Amida Coming Over the Mountain; Seishi at right, Kannon at left
Hanging Scroll. Color on Silk. National Treasure of Japan.
Kamakura Era, Treasure of Zenrin-ji Temple (Kyoto).
Photo Courtesy Zenrin-ji Temple (also called Eikando)
永観堂 禅林寺, 一躯像高 77cm, 平安後期~鎌倉初期
See Amida Raigo Triad page for more photos and details.

amida-raigo-triad-jodo-org
Amida Raigo Triad
Photo: www.jodo.org

Seishi Bosatsu - Northern and Southern Dynasties, 1336 - 1392, Hase Dera in Kamakura
Seishi Bosatsu, Wood
Northern and Southern Dynasties, 1336 - 1392
Hase Dera in Kamakura (scanned from temple catalog)

Seishi Bosatsu - 12th Century, Chusonji
Seishi Bosatsu - 12th Century, Chuusonji Temple, Scanned from temple catalog

Seishi and Kannon Bosatsu, Standing in Tribankha Pose (hands outstreched in varada and vitarka mudras)
Seishi (L) and Kannon (R) Bosatsu
Hands outstretched in Varada and Vitarka Mudras
Courtesy http://www.shakris.com (Arts of Japan section)

Seishi Bosatsu, Hakuhou Era, at Tokyo Nat'l Museum, photo courtesy "Handbook"
Hakuhō Era 663 - 709 AD, Treasure of Hōryūji Temple, Bronze, H = 22 cm
Photo: Handbook on Viewing Buddhist Statues (click here to buy book at Amazon)
A wonderful book. Japanese language only; 192 pages. 80 or so color photos. By author Ishii Ayako.

IMPORTANT STATUES OF SEISHI BOSATSU IN JAPAN

  • Ninnaji Temple 仁和寺 (Kyoto); Heian Period, National Treasure.
    Seishi as part of an Amida Triad. Wood, H = 124.2 cm
     
  • Konbuin Temple 興福院 (Nara); Nara Era statue. Seishi as part of an Amida Triad. Wood-core dry lacquer (Mokushin Kanshitsu 木心乾漆). H = 75.4 cm. Important Cultural Treasure.
     
  • Sanzenin 三千院 (Kyoto); Dated 1148 AD, National Treasure.
    Seishi as part of an Amida Triad. Wood, H = 131.8 cm
     
  • Jōdoji (Jodoji) Temple 浄土寺 (Hyōgo Prefecture); Dated +1197. Amida Triad by Kaikei.
    Seishi as part of an Amida Triad. Lacquer and gold leaf over wood.
     
  • Amida Nyorai Triad (Sanzon), 1148 AD, Byōdō-in Temple.
    See Bosatsu on Clouds page for more photos and details.
     
  • Joshoko-ji Temple (north of Kyoto); 12th Century, Amida Raigo Triad.
    See photos from Kyoto National Museum.

LEARN MORE

  • Jump to our sister site selling hand-carved wooden Buddha Statues from Japan, China, and SE AsiaspacerStatues of Seishi are available for online purchase at our sister site, Buddhist-Artwork.com, which launched in July 2006. The online store sells quality hand-carved wooden Buddha statues and Bodhisattva statues, especially those carved for the Japanese market. It is aimed at art lovers, Buddhist practitioners, and laity alike. Just like this site (OnmarkProductions.com), it is not associated with any educational institution, private corporation, governmental agency, or religious group. 

RESOURCES

MUSEUMS, PHOTO ARCHIVES

spacer
bottom bar

Copyright 1995 - 2014. Mark Schumacher. Email Mark.
All stories and photos, unless specified otherwise, by Schumacher.
www.onmarkproductions.com     |     make a donation

Please do not copy these pages or photos into Wikipedia or elsewhere without proper citation !