Baby Jizo (2011)

A Jizo statue at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple in the Little Tokyo National Historic Landmark District of Downtown Los Angeles.

Jizo is a very popular figure in Japan. He is usually depicted as an adult monk with the symbolic regalia of a Bodhisattva, a Buddha who foresakes Nirvana to help others Awaken as Buddhas. As Jizo’s primary role is protecting the spirits of deceased children in Naraka (the Buddhist Purgatory), he is also frequently portrayed as a child.

The bright red bib and bonnet are a traditional veneration offered by mothers whose children have died. Offerings may also include stones (to help their deceased children build the monuments to Buddha that lead to their liberation from Purgatory), toys, or other meaningful items like the ring offered to this Jizo. Parents of living children, pregnant women, and travelers may also make offerings to Jizo to ask for his protection.

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