Kongōyasha Myōō

Period: Heian period (794–1185)

Date: 12th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Dimensions: Image: 28 3/8 x 21 1/4 in. (72.1 x 54 cm)
Overall with mounting: 65 5/8 x 26 1/2 in. (166.7 x 67.3 cm)
Overall with knobs: 65 5/8 x 28 5/8 in. (166.7 x 72.7 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: 1975.268.12


Kongōyasha Myōō is one of the Five Great Guardian Kings in Esoteric Buddhism. His ferocious aspect is a manifestation of the wrath of the Five Wisdom Buddhas against evil. Kongōyasha Myōō is presented with three faces, five eyes, and six arms, with each hand holding one of his attributes: a wheel, an arrow, a bow, a sword, a tri-pronged vajra, and a vajra bell. Introduced from China by Kobo Daishi (774-836), a founder of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, the Five Great Guardian Kings became an important ritual icon, called upon as protectors of the nation during the Ninnōkyō ceremony (Sutra of the Benevolent Kings), which was performed on special occasions