"Most prominent today in Japanese Zen, Jizo is understood to be the protector of those journeying through the physical and spiritual realms. This bodhisattva is closely associated with children, believed to be their guardian before birth, throughout childhood, and after death."
In India he is known as Ksitigarbha, in China as Dizang, in Korea as Jijang Bosal,
and in Japan as Jizo Bosatsu.
Long before many of the fantasy and fairy elements of my world showed up in Bewilder and Pine, I was making Jizos. I had learned about them while studying Zen just after the turn of the Millennium and when I was trying to find the comfort zone in my desire for solitude and silence around me.
I fell in love with the figure and the meaning behind him.
Visiting a monastery that had a "Jizo Garden" with statues large and small, each dedicated to a child who had died and lovingly placed and cared for along the forest paths, my interest deepened.
Then I read about the Onegai, or "wish granting" Jizos at Nihonji Daibutsu, where thousands upon thousands of tiny Onegai Jizos surround the larger statues, all placed by folks making wishes or prayers as they visit. The Onegai is one of over 70 various Jizo versions I have seen described!
Over the years I have been so blessed to have created a few hundred or so of these little guys and they have grown along with me. I change the listing photos every few years as they mature and grow with my skills.
The story in the Times led about 15 or so folks to the shop, all within this last week, and I have been graced with making Jizos one after the other to meet the demand there, as well as with the few little boutiques I sell thru who also happened to see the article. I've also been graced with the stories of some of these new customers who are buying them who read the article, searched the internet for Jizos, and happened upon my little guys. They sometimes share stories of the children they lost in childbirth or far too soon thereafter. Some purchase them for just that purpose, others as travel companions for protection. and some just for their own altar in the role of a "wish-granter".
The thing is, and many of you know this about me, I am usually not fond or making things over and over in short spans of time. But I have to say that I felt none of that this last week creating two dozen or so Jizos to fill the purposes they were requested for. It's a whole other realm. It feels like a deep and true service. . .
It's possible, especially when Bewilder and Pine is fully stocked, to miss them altogether among the fairy magic and mythic gargoyles and such. . . but below are a few of the images of some that I made this last week. If you have never heard of Jizo, there's a lot of information out there. But if you are truly interested in the meaning behind Jizo, I'd recommend the book written by my previous Zen teacher from that time, Jan Chozen Bays called: "Jizo Bodhisattva - Guardian of Children, Travelers and Other Voyagers". She has worked with and studied Jizo for years. There's no better introduction to Jizo than her book.
It's been a hectic week. . . but every step of the way it's been a wonderful reminder of how you can touch people with creativity. The meaning found within and the wealth of warmth and love one can receive from the service of creating. . .
Hope the New Year is treating you all so wonderfully thus far!!
|Onegai, Wish-Granting, Jizo|
|Just over 2 inches (5cm) tall|
|I offer them in the same aged patina finishes as my statues in Shadow of the Sphinx too.|
|I hope you enjoyed the glimpse of these little guys.|