Shinto Female Deity
Sculpture. Carved single wood block
Heian period (894-1185), 10th century
H: 13 5/8"

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This tenth century female shinzo is of the courtly type. Typical of the period it is carved in the ichiboku zukuri technique or single woodblock carving. Dressed in the fashion of a Heian court lady, the hands are held beneath the folds of the fabric of her gowns. Most likely she was seated, since the left lower front half of her body appears to have been her raised knee. Much of the dark pigment of her hair remains and extends down her back. The sharp chiseled features of her face with its gentle smile, her full form, and quiet spirituality are characteristic of single woodblock sculpture of this type. Created for a provincial shrine/temple, she would have been one of many female and male deities grouped together at the altar.