Jizo is seen by Zen Buddhists as a guardian of women, children and travelers. Jizo embodies the qualities of courage, optimism, and benevolence. Gassho is the Japanese word for the gesture Jizo is making by placing the palms together with fingers pointing upward. This gesture is used to express greeting, request, thankfulness, deep respect, or prayer. Matthew Leavitt designed these statues during his period of study at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. This design is intended to evoke a feeling of calm and reverence and they're pleasant to hold in your hand.