Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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『図像抄』〈十巻抄〉明王部諸尊
Iconographic Drawings of the Five Kings of Wisdom (Myōō-bu shoson)

Period:
Heian period (794–1185)
Date:
12th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
13 1/4 in. x 42 ft. 2 3/16 in. (33.7 x 1285.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.268.6
Not on view
The Five Great Kings of Wisdom (Godai Myōō) are ferocious-looking deities who ward off evil in order to protect the Buddha’s law. The opening section of this scroll shows various depictions of Fudō Myōō, the Immovable King of Wisdom. The surrounding mandorla of flames represents the extinguishing of human passions. Accompanying the illustrations are schematic drawings of the deity’s attributes: a vajra “thunderbolt” sword (a symbol for cutting through ignorance), an eight-spoked dharmachakra disk, and a two-pronged vajra with rope.

The Zuzō shō (or Jikkanshō) is an encyclopedia of Esoteric Buddhist iconography in ten scrolls, with detailed descriptions of the attributes of the various Myōō. This scroll is stylistically close to the oldest surviving version of the Zuzō shō, housed at Daigoji Temple in Kyoto from approximately 1193.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," November 5, 1991–December 15, 1992.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1995.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14, 2004–June 13, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Mighty Kano School: Orthodoxy and Iconoclasm," December 18, 2004–June 5, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–January 22, 2017.

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