Dainichi-Nyorai was the central figure in Esoteric Buddhism (mikkyo, ‘profound teachings’), a doctrine that made its way into Japan from China in 804AD. ‘Dainichi’ means ‘The Great Sun’.
This statue is believed to be the earliest work by Unkei, the most famous busshi (sculptor of Buddhist statues) in Japanese history. One can perceive the style of the master ? who strived for realism in his work ? in the statue’s well-proportioned plumpness and firmness of expression. ＊Unkei
Ernest Fenollosa, the American art historian who made the first full inventory of Japanese artistic treasures in 1882, said: “Unkei to the Japanese is like Michelangelo to the West.”
Unkei is the most famous Buddhist sculptor in Japan. He had intimate connections with many prominent cultural figures and samurais in medieval Japan, and produced numerous outstanding pieces.
His works are characterized by their dynamic and often masculine expressions, that were unlike the traditional Buddhist statues with their characteristically calm appearances.