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  • Thumbnail for Great Buddha sculpture at Kamakura, interior view
    Great Buddha sculpture at Kamakura, interior view

    This rather unusual image is a view of the inside of the sculpture of the Great Buddha at Kamakura, taken half way up the stairs inside the figure, looking up into the head of the figure. The dark circles visible inside the head are the coils of hair of the figure. -- Aside from the remarkable scale of the sculpture, which one senses powerfully as one climbs the stairs inside of the sculpture, the striking feature of this photograph is probably the illustration of the manner in which the sculpture was made, fabricated. It appears that it was cast in sections or plates, which were then assembled to create the finished sculpture (look at the outside of the sculpture in the image, ecasia000062). Also of very particular interest here are "brown" elements on the neck and upper torso of the figure. During the great Tokyo earthquake, the head of the sculpture separated from the rest of the figure and ended up in the lap of the figure. It was mounted back in position but, by the late 1940's or early 1950's, stress cracks had begun to appear in the neck. The brown elements visible here are strips of an early plastic compound that were places on the interior of the neck at that time to attempt to reinforce the structure; there was some doubt that the plastic would prove adequate or that it would retain its strength but, obviously, it has served well. (information re: the reinforcement, thanks to Tokyo metalsmith and sculptor, Kosugi Takuya, former metals professor at the National University for the Arts in Tokyo)