Standing Figure of Buddhist Guardian
On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This relatively small figure of a fierce warrior likely depicts one of twelve heavenly generals who were installed in a circle to guard an image of the Buddha of Healing (Yakushi Nyorai) in a Buddhist temple. Dressed in Chinese-style armor, he held a spear or trident, warding off anyone who might threaten the Buddhist faith. An inscription—on the tenon attaching the bottom of one foot to its pedestal—suggests that the image was carved by a sculptor named Joga, whose name also appears on sculptures made for Kōfuku-ji, a major Buddhist temple in Nara.
Wood sculpture with traces of polychromy
23 7/16 x 11 5/8 in. (59.5 x 29.5 cm)
Carll H. de Silver Fund and Museum Collection Fund
The piece has been attributed to "Joga" on the basis of a signed sculpture from the same set now in the Nara Museum. (This sculptor has not been further identified.) Since the attributes, originally held in each hand, are now lost, positive identification of this figure is impossible, but he appears to be one of the twelve divine generals. "Yoseki" or multiple block construction with hollow center. Originally the piece was entirely polychromed. Traces of fabric which covered the joins, a small area of gilt and lacquer pattern, and traces of polychrome remain.
Condition: repairs on left shoulder and right elbow. Small details of drapery broken off. Modern "cloud-shaped" stand.
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