This is an antique Japanese Jizo (Jizo Bosatsu) one of the most beloved and revered Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. Jizo is the embodiment of the Bodhisattva Vow, the aspiration to save all beings from suffering. He is the protector of women, children, farmers and travelers in the six realms of existence. It is dated Kyoho 20 (1735).
The function of this great Bodhisattva is to guide travelers in both the physical and spiritual realms. In Japan, it is customary to place statues of Jizo at the intersections of roads and streets so that the correct path will be chosen. Jizo is often depicted as a child-monk, or as a pilgrim. He sometimes carries a staff with six jingling rings (called Shakujo) to announce his friendly approach to prevents harm to small animals and insects in his path. He is also often shown holding the Dharma Jewel (called Hoju) which is a calming light which banishes all fear.
Jizo is believed to save our souls for the 5.67 billion years after the demise of Sakyamuni until the future when the second Buddha Miroku finally appears in this world. He is the only Bodhisattva portrayed as a monk having a shaven head because of his refusal to become a Buddha until "all the Hells are empty" by transporting rescued souls from hell to paradise. He is one of the most beloved of all Japanese divinities because he works tirelessly to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those who fall into hell.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (sanskrit for Jizo) came to Japan around the sixth or seventh century AD with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan. He is first mentioned in the Nara period (710-792 AD) but the height of his popularity was during the late Heian period (794-1192) when the rise of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect intensified fears about hell in the afterlife and the efficacy of Jizo.