In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Dizang (Jizō, Ksitigarbha)

  • Introduction
  • Secondary Sources on Dizang Scriptures and Ritual Manuals
  • Miracle Tales
  • Mizuko kuyō: Rites for the Infant and Unborn Dead
  • More Local Traditions

Buddhism Dizang (Jizō, Ksitigarbha)
Hank Glassman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0246


The name Kṣitigarbha is attested as one member of a group of “eight great bodhisattvas” in the iconography of Indian Buddhism by the 8th century CE, and it appears in Śāntideva’s Bodhisattvacharyāvatāra around the same time. Indeed, this grouping of eight continues down to the present within Tibetan traditions. However, the Buddhist deity under discussion in this article is most accurately understood as a novel creation of Buddhists in China, and thus will be referred to primarily as Dizang (Ti-tsang) 地蔵 in this article. Dizang in China and Central Asia predates these Indian references by at least two centuries. (On this point see Appendix 2, pp. 229–239, in Zhiru 2007, under China; for a different view on the origins of the Dizang Cult in China, see Wang 1998, also under China). While the Indian and Tibetan Kṣitigarbha is invariably found together with the remaining seven, and in appearance resembles other celestial bodhisattvas, Dizang’s iconography in China and subsequent East Asian contexts, where he appears in the guise of a monk, diverges greatly from this model (see Iconography). In East Asia, Dizang is very much tied to the dead and to passage through the underworld. Closely associated with the Ten Kings who preside over the judgment of the deceased, he is portrayed as psychopomp (soul-guide) and as savior from the infernal regions. While Dizang has been very popular in the East Asian countries of China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, the character of his cult has varied widely in each region. Since Dizang has been such a prominent deity, images of him and stories about him appear in a great many texts and source collections. Here, in the interests of concision and usability, citations are limited to those that take Dizang as their main topic. Also, while there is a separate heading here for iconography, many of the studies listed in other sections (e.g., Wang 1998 and Zhiru 2007, under China; Glassman 2012, under Japan) rely heavily on visual evidence and iconographical analysis. This bibliography includes only secondary sources.


Various sorts of books are included in this section, some focusing primarily on literature, others on iconography, but they are here because of their breadth of scope. As indicated below, some books listed under Japan and China focus primarily on Japan. Among key issues in the field to note are the origins of the Dizang cult and its antiquity, as discussed in Wang 1998 and Zhiru 2007 (both under China); the character of Jizō worship during the Heian period (974–1185 CE), as explained in Hayami 1975 (under Japan and China) and Watari 1980 (under More Local Traditions); and the relationship between the Sanjiejiao, or Three Stages Sect, and Dizang worship in the early period of the 6th–7th century CE, as documented in Hayami 1975 (under Japan and China) and Yin 2009 (under China).

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