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Buddhist bodhisattva widely revered in China and Japan. Known in India from the 4th century BC, he became popular in China as Dicang and in Japan as Jizo. He is the patron of the oppressed or dying, and he seeks to save the souls of the dead condemned to hell. In China he is the overlord of hell, and in Japan he is known for his kindness to the departed, particularly to dead children. Usually depicted as a monk with a nimbus around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a flaming pearl to light up the darkness.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Ksitigarbha, visit Britannica.com.
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