Tobatsu Bishamonten


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 223

Tobatsu Bishamonten is one of the manifestations of Bishamonten, the Guardian King of the North, who is usually included in a group of Four Guardian Kings (Shitennō), protectors of the four directions. However, in the manifestation of Tobatsu Bishamonten (as captured by this sculpture), the deity is always shown independently and typically stands on a mount supported by the female earth deity, Jiten, and two dwarf demons, Niranba and Biranba. Wearing an angry expression and dressed in the armor of a Chinese warrior, he holds in his left hand a miniature stupa, which symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings and relics; his right hand most likely held a weapon to subjugate evil and suppress the enemies of Buddhism.

Tobatsu Bishamonten, Zelkova wood with traces of color, Japan

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