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The Guardian King Bishamonten

Period:
Heian period (794–1185)
Date:
12th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Wood with color, gold leaf, and lacquer
Dimensions:
Figure: H. 21 11/16 in. (55.1 cm); W. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); D. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm) Figure with sculptural base: H. 24 in. (61 cm); W. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); D. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm) Figure w/sculptural base & staff: H. 29 1/8 in. (74 cm) Total w/modern base: H. 25 1/4 in. (64.1 cm); W. 11 in. (27.9 cm); D. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm) Total: H. 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1959
Accession Number:
59.137.2a–c
  • Description

    Bishamonten (Sanskrit: Vaishravana), the Guardian King of the North, is one of the four protectors of the cardinal directions, who, together with eight other fearsome kings, comprise the Twelve Devas (Jūniten) of Esoteric Buddhism. Eight of them protect the eight directions, and the remaining four symbolize heaven, earth, the sun, and the moon. Bishamonten is considered the most powerful of the Guardian Kings, as his direction—North—is associated with danger.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
49115

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