I set to design a Jizo who embodies empathy and listening, with versatile, modern aesthetic. The statue is deliberately scaled to fit nicely in the palm of the hand, and they are smooth to the touch. I created the first one in 2008 while in residence at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon, which is devoted to Jizo and features a beautiful, wooded Jizo garden. I still make each one by hand.
Also known as Ksitigarbha (Sanskrit) or Ti Tsang Wang P'usa (Chinese), Jizo is a guardian of the earth and a protector of children, women, and travelers. Jizo also helps those who are working with a life problem or physical affliction.
A bodhisattva is someone who is devoted to freeing living beings from suffering. Jizo embodies this vow and the qualities of fearlessness, benevolence, and unflagging optimism. This statue is intended to inspire these qualities, to ease the anxiety of a traveler, or to bring tranquility to someone who is grieving the loss of a child or pet.
Gassho is the Japanese word for the gesture Jizo is making by placing palms together with fingers pointing upward. This gesture is used to express greeting, request, thankfulness, deep respect, or prayer. It is also known as namasté (Sanskrit), heshi (Chinese), or wai (Thai).