standing figure holding staff in PR hand and miniature pagadoa in outstretched PL hand; he is wearing elaborate crown and armour; figure attached to base with keys on the bottom of the feet; staff is removable

Bishamonten, the Guardian of the North, late 12th century

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Bishamonten is the leader of the Four Heavenly Kings, a group of Buddhist deities known in Japanese as Shitennō, who preside over the cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west). Evil is commonly believed to approach from the north, so Bishamonten is necessarily the most fearsome of the Four Heavenly Kings. Bishamonten is shown with a black face, while the protectors of the east, south, and west are depicted with green, white, and red faces, respectively. When depicted alone, he often holds in his right hand a lance and in his left a pagoda, demonstrating his role as a powerful guardian of the Buddha’s teachings.

Details
Title
Bishamonten, the Guardian of the North
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2013.31.57a-c
Curator Approved

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standing figure holding staff in PR hand and miniature pagadoa in outstretched PL hand; he is wearing elaborate crown and armour; figure attached to base with keys on the bottom of the feet; staff is removable