Monday, July 11, 2022
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Jizo within the Monastery Backyard

by Linda Shinji Hoffman

Orchardist and Sculptor, Shinji shared on her weblog, Apples, Artwork, and Spirit, about making a Jizo Bodhisattva for the Monastery backyard.

Historical individuals made stone piles to mark a website as sacred, whereas right this moment we use stone cairns to point the path on a wilderness path. For over a 12 months I had a small pile of stones on one in every of my work tables. It simply sat there and didn’t draw consideration from guests to the studio. It didn’t level me in any path.

After I start a sculpture, I typically don’t know the place I’m going. I’ll let one thing sit for a very long time. I do know there’s a seed there, however it’s buried within the earth. It’s as if my life, the sensible on a regular basis facet, must catch as much as the trusting, mystical facet. My cairn waited, often toppling to the ground.

Jizo Bosatsu by Zen-en (14th century) Assortment Asia Society

Then I used to be requested if I may make a Jizo for the backyard at Zen Mountain Monastery. Jizos are protectors. In Japan, even right this moment, they’re alongside roadsides, on metropolis avenue corners, in temples and shrines. These stone figures are notably essential for the safety they provide to girls, youngsters, and vacationers. A wooden roughly carved Jizo sculpture had been within the backyard on the monastery, however when the Jizo Home was accomplished, a small constructing designed to deal with monastery retreatants, this wood Jizo moved to the entrance door of the Jizo Home to be a welcoming presence.

Jizo first appeared in Buddhist iconography within the seventh century in China as a male monk with robes and a workers that had rings on the highest that jingled when he walked.

The jingle-jangle would scare away predators in addition to warn away small animals that may get stepped on. However Jizo because it got here down the centuries grew to become extra usually represented by tough stone carvings. Pink bibs have been usually tied round them as prayers for a deceased youngster, and ladies would knit little caps for them, too. I bear in mind visiting a temple in Kyoto the place there was a venerable sea of Jizos. It was a temple the place girls got here to supply their tears for a stillborn or aborted youngster.

Jizos at Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto. Photograph:

Someday throughout Jizo’s historical past, they grew to become related to the earth. The English translation of the phrase is “earth storehouse” or “earth womb.” 

When Yukon, the monk who’s the gardener on the monastery requested me make a Jizo, I instantly mentioned sure. That’s once I started to listen to this small assortment of stones on my desk converse. Earth mom, protector, guardian. Jizo historically was male, however grew to become non-binary. Jizo merely cares. Engaged on the sculpture, I started to think about all of the beings Jizo cares for, and I positioned them throughout their physique.

Jizo in wax with iris stem

Yukon had made it very clear that this Jizo wanted a workers, and it needed to be one like the normal Jizo with rings. I picked out a few stalks from the dried iris clump close to my studio door. They have been the best measurement and I appreciated the concept of utilizing the dried seed pod for attaching the rings. Zach Gabbard at Mission Foundry did a masterful job casting, welding, and burning out the iris pods to make the workers.

Jizo put in at Zen Mountain Monastery Backyard, 2022, bronze

A Jizo’s vow ensures that they are going to assist all beings it doesn’t matter what misdeeds have precipitated their struggling. Makers of Jizos, in addition to those that venerate them are mentioned to obtain items. How grateful I’m for the chance to make this sculpture and set up it within the backyard at Zen Mountain Monastery. Could this Jizo be a protector for the earth’s beings in all places.

Rudy the Cat, Jizo, and Yukon

We will all make Jizos. Construct stone cairns, or bake a stack of cookies for a good friend. Supply flowers, smiles. Unfold the care, prolong the love. I’d love to supply a Jizo making workshop after we can all meet once more in particular person. Let me know if this pursuits you.                      

Jizo within the Snow, Photograph: Mn.Yukon Grody

To study extra about Outdated Frog Pond farm and studio, go to
Shinji’s memoir, “The Artist and the Orchard,” was printed in 2021 by Loom Press.  

SubsequentTaking the Bodhisattva Vows


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