This small sculpture of a Buddha figure is a miniature reproduction of the Great Buddha statue at Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura, Japan, a colossal outdoor bronze sculpture of the Amida (Amitabha) Buddha. The Buddha is seated in a meditative posture, with his legs folded, and his hands folded in his lap in the Dhyana mudra ("meditation mudra"). The hands and fingers form the shape of a triangle, which is symbolic of the spiritual fire. This mudra is used in representations of the Sakyamuni Buddha and Amida Buddha, as well as occasionally the Medicine Buddha. He bears other attributes of the Buddha, including the soft drapes of his robe, the snail shell curled hair, the third eye of enlightenment, and a serene, downcast expression.
Buddhism is a religion originating in India, based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Buddha, meaning "the awakened one," teaches that to end human suffering one must eliminate desire; the end of suffering is an escape from the cycle of reincarnation and the attainment of nirvana. Buddhism arrived in Japan by way of Korea in the 6th century CE, and went on to be a major cultural influence in the development of Japan. Because Buddhism is polytheistic (and even at times considered atheistic), it has been able to coexist with Shintoism, the indigenous and polytheistic religion of Japan. There are many sects and schools within Buddhism globally today; in Japan, the most popular branches include Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism.