Standing Figure of Amida Nyorai
Amida Nyorai (Amitabha) is the ruler of the heavenly Pure Land far to the west. The Pure Land is said to be a place of great joy, and it was believed that one reborn inside one of its lotus blossoms would attain Buddhahood through the teachings of Amida. The novel idea of rebirth of women in the Pure Land (rather than first being reincarnated as men before being reborn there) is already described in Chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra, one of the earliest sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, and is further expounded in the three Pure Land sutras: the Infinite Life Sutra, the Meditation Sutra, and the Amida Sutra. This statue depicts Amida Nyorai, rendered entirely in glittering gold and making the mudra hand sign for the most exalted of the nine forms of raigo (descent to take someone to the Pure Land.) Amida appearing in the story is modeled on this statue. However, Amida is described as being larger, as the standard size for statues was one jo and six shaku, approx. 4.85 meters, thought to have been the height of the Buddha.