“Kneeling angel” tile excavated from Oka-dera temple, Nara

Tile with Angel Design

Dimensions: 39 x 39 x 8 cm
Excavation site: Oka, Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture
Asuka Period (late 7th Century)
Important Cultural Property
(Oka-dera Temple, Nara)

This square tile is thought to have been attached to the central Buddhist sculpture of Okadera Temple, possibly on the side of the shumidan platform.

Of interest is the decoration, relief caring of the graceful figure, which has been interpreted as a kneeling angel holding a holy cloth and looking upward towards heaven.

Few such illustrated tiles of the period have been found in Japan. The only tile similar to this is one with a phoenix decoration excavated at Oka-dera Temple. Such tiles are thought to have been produced under the influence of Korean craftsmen or based on Korean examples.

Source: Kyoto National Museum

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