Mount Kurama Mandala: Bishamonten Triad


Not on view

This depiction of the armor-clad Buddhist deity Bishamonten (Sanskrit: Vaishravana), who wields a halberd, is linked to religious practices at Kuramadera, a temple in northwest Kyoto. Founded in the late eighth century, the temple was intended to protect the capital from the north and was dedicated to Bishamonten for his role as guardian of this cardinal direction. One of the so-called Four Guardian Kings (Shitennō), Bishamonten was revered as a god of warriors. Here, he is flanked by his wife, Kichijōten, and son, Zennishi Dōji. This is among the earliest representations of Bishamonten with a centipede, which came to be recognized as his divine messenger.

Mount Kurama Mandala: Bishamonten Triad, Unidentified Artist, Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, Japan

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