Wood panel; ink, color, and gold on lacquered wood; H. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm), W. 7 1/2 in. (19 cm)
Bequest of Susan Dwight Bliss, 1966 (67.55.38)
This wooden panel was once one of two doors of a portable shrine encasing an image of the Esoteric Buddhist deity Fudō Myōō, the “Immovable” King of Brightness. Charged with guarding the Buddhist Law, Fudō stands fast with a sword to cut through ignorance and a lasso to capture evil doers. He is frequently shown with his youthful attendants, sometimes numbering up to forty-eight. Servants of the pantheon of Buddhist deities and equipped with supernatural powers, they increasingly became objects of religious interest during Japan’s medieval era. This was the right door of the shrine. Eight boy attendants are depicted upon an outcropping of rock, facing inward toward their master. The left door would have had another configuration of eight such figures, also facing Fudō. The figure seated with his hands pressed together around a singled-pronged vajra, a ritual object derived from ancient Indian weaponry, is Kongara. Fudō is often portrayed in a triad with Kongara and another attendant named Seitaka. Seitaka may have appeared on the other door, as he is typically depicted to Fudō’s left.