View right to left
front: Komoku-ten, Guardian of the West, one of a set of four Shitenno (Guardian Figures)

one of set: 11859 one of set: 11892 one of set: 11476

Komoku-ten, Guardian of the West, one of a set of four Shitenno (Guardian Figures)

Buddhist sculpture
Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Sculpture; wood and polychrome with gilt, crystal-inlaid eyes
H x W x D: 66 × 33 × 19 cm (26 × 13 × 7 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
Komokuten (Virupaksa), Guardian of the West, is one of a set of four Shitenno (guardian figures). The four images would have been placed within a temple sanctuary protecting one or more centralized Buddhist images. They were created and positioned to be viewed frontally as a logical and dynamic composition. Here, Komoku-ten (west), holds a writing brush and sutra scroll. Each figure stands on a writhing demon, symbolizing dominance over any enemies of Buddhism.

Based on varied devotional settings, the four guardian figures hav been produced in many sizes, from more than double the size of a human, to the diminutive forms seen here, to even smaller. These lithe, animated figures are excellent examples of a hyperrealistic style that came to prominence in Japanese Buddhist sculpture in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Provenance information is currently unavailable
On View Location
Currently not on view
Buddhism, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), Komoku-ten
Collection(s) Area
Japanese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Art Project, Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

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