Jikoku-ten, Guardian Of The East
Digital Art - Artist Print
Jikoku-ten, Guardian of the East
These, Ulak says, “were probably created for a more private aristocratic chapel or abbot’s temple. The scale says refinement and a high degree of benefaction by someone.” Although their garments seem to evolve from a central Asian or Chinese warrior model, these Shitenno are not warriors like samurai, but guardians. They do not go out to battle so much as remain in the temple to protect.
In the temple, these four guardians would probably have been arranged in a mandala, a geometric representation of a spiritual concept, and viewed together from the front as a logical, dynamic composition.
Demonic figures are seen all through Buddhist art, not just Japanese but in art in central Asia, China and Korea, Ulak adds.
“They appear in abundance in paintings, particularly paintings depicting hell, and are usually animated. What struck me in looking at these demons is how they resemble certain gargoyles you see in European cathedrals during roughly the same period. This is not to imply there is any connection between these representations of wicked forms,” he says.
October 28th, 2017
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