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Standing Figure of Buddhist Guardian

Asian Art

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 KĊfuku-ji, a major Buddhist temple in Nara.
MEDIUM Wood sculpture with traces of polychromy
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 13th-14th century
    PERIOD Kamakura Period
    DIMENSIONS 23 7/16 x 11 5/8 in. (59.5 x 29.5 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 61.1
    CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund and Museum Collection Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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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