Page of

Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan
Author(s):
Sherry D. Fowler
Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824856229.003.0001

As this book makes former groups of Kannon visible, it also explores the fluidity of numerical categorizations of deities that attempt to quantify invisible beliefs. Although initially formed with the idea of corresponding to the six paths of transmigration in Buddhist thought, the Six Kannon were anything but a monolithic cult. As the Lotus sūtra explains, in order to save a sentient being most expediently Kannon can assume thirty-three different types of bodies. Yet the plethora of images of Kannon seen all over the world reveals that there are many more forms and that the number thirty-three stands for the great number of variations Kannon can take. Pious motivations commonly drove the faithful to use creative calculations to adjust the number of Kannon to suit their needs.

Keywords:   Japan, Kannon, Buddhist math, numbers, Six Kannon, Thirty-three Kannon, Seven Kannon, Hōryūji, Hayami Takasu

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