Sho Kannon (聖観音)
Sho Kannon, aarya avalokitezvara in Sanskrit is a venerable entity of Bosatsu, Bodhisattva, which is worshipped in Buddhism. It is also called 'Sei Kannon' and is one of the Roku Kannon (six Kannon). There are various figures of the statue of Kannon Bodhisattva, Kannon Bosatsu (Kanzeon Bosatsu, Kanjizai Bosatsu), among which the statues with one face and two arms are called Sho Kannon, not the statues with superhuman appearance and many faces and arms. 聖観音 (Sho Kannon, literally Sacred Kannon) is also written as 正観音 (Sho Kannon, literally Real Kannon). It is said that it benefits Jigoku-do (world of hell) as Kannon with great mercy in the role of Roku Kannon.
Sanma yagyo (characteristic things of the Buddha) Symbol is shokatsu renge (a slightly-opened lotus bud). Shushi (or Shuji (the characteristic one syllable word to depict the Bodhisattva)) (Esoteric Buddhism) are sa, hriiH and so on.
Features of statue and belongings
There are Henge Kannon (The transformations in which Kannon (Deity of Mercy) appears in order to save sentient beings) which has many faces and many arms such as Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-faced Kannon), Senju Kannon (Thousand Armed Kannon) and Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion), and Kannon which has one face and two arms and do not have a superhuman figure; the latter is called 'Sho Kannon (聖観音 or 正観音).'
In Esoteric Buddhism, Sho Kannon, Juichimen Kannon, Senju Kannon, Nyoirin Kannon, Bato Kannon (horse-headed Kannon) and Jundei Kannon (Cundi) (or Fukukensaku Kannon (Fukukenjaku Kannon) (Kannon of the Never Empty Lasso) in place of Jundei Kannon) are called 'Roku Kannon.'
The features of Sho Kannon are generally Bosatsu, with one face and two arms as mentioned above, and its Jimotsu (the hand-held attributes of a Buddhist image) is lotus in the left hand, but it is not always uniform. What is most distinguishable for a Kannon statue is to place a small statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata), called Kebutsu (the Artificial Buddha), on the front top part of its head, which is a common characteristic with other Kannon statues such as Senju Kannon.
Kannon' or 'Sho Kannon'
All Kannon statues with one face and two arms are not necessarily called 'Sho Kannon.'
The Kannon statue, which is placed as the left Kyoji (attendant figure) of Amida sanzon (Amida triad), is generally called only 'Kannon Bosatsu statue' and it is limited to being called 'Sho Kannon' when it is enshrined individually.
In addition, there are many cases where even the individual Kannon statue with one face and two arms is not called 'Sho Kannon.'
For example, at Horyu-ji Temple in Nara, there are three National Treasure Kannon statues which are commonly called 'Kudara Kannon' (Kannon of Kudara), 'Yumechigai Kannon' (dream changing Kannon) and 'Kuse Kannon' (Kannon of salvation), and the official names of these three statues at the time of recognition as national treasures were 'the standing statues of Kannon Bosatsu' so that they are not called 'Sho Kannon' as either official names nor as popular names.
Among the so-called Small Gilt Bronze Buddhist Statues, which were widely made mainly during the Nara period, many statues are clearly recognized as Kannon statues because of placing a Kebutsu of Amida Nyorai on the head, but these are usually just called 'Kannon (Bosatsu) statues' instead of 'Sho Kannon' as well.
Among the statues called 'Sho Kannon' in general and by the temple, the statue of the principal image of Buddha at Toin-do of Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara Prefecture (Nara period, National Treasure), the statue of the principal image of Buddha at Futai-ji Temple in Nara Prefecture (Important Cultural Property) and the statue at Kurama-ji Temple in Kyoto Prefecture (Important Cultural Property) are famous.