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Antique Buddha Museum Statues
Bishamonten base view
Antique Consecrated Ichiboku-Zukuri Statue

Shitenno Tamonten 多聞天

Dharmapala King of The North

Origin: Japanese. Circa: Meiji, 19th Century
H 21 in. (53 cm) W 11 in. (28 cm) D 9 in. (23 cm)
Measurement of statue, not including weapon
Aged imperfections, overall good condition!
Deva Kings originated in India, they were adopted into the Buddhist pantheon in China and Japan in the 6th and 7th century. Where they are venerated as temple guardians and Protectors of the World, Gose Shitenno 護世四天王. They each dwell in and protect one of the four continents surrounding Mt. Sumeru 須弥山. Among the four, Tamonten is the only Deva King worshipped independently in Japan, both as guardian of Buddhist faith and as one of Seven Lucky Gods Shichi Fukujin.

There is an array of interests in this vigorous ichiboku-zukuri style single block carving, the Guardian of the North, Tamonten (aka Bishamonten, or in Sanskrit: Vaishravana). At first glance, the Deva King is wearing a small winged helmet on his chignon, with intricately carved Chinese style warrior armors and high boots, elaborately ornate cuirasses in low relief, taotie lion-headed waist-belt, sinuous flowing scarves running down to the side, his large head turned sideway forward, opened mouth detailed with teeth and tongue, up turning bushy eyebrows framing a third eye in the forehead, as two bulging eyes fiercely glaring beyond the stupa held in his left hand, firmly gripping in his right is a raised cudgel, with left foot on a fire wheel while his bended knee thrusted forth, in a striking pose on a mound-shaped pedestal detailed with cloud motifs. The warrior’s stance is anchored with unwavering intensity, virile and literally sweeping with force. Noticeably, the Dharmapala’s prodigious stature evokes an almost playful state of martial art acrobatics. Closer observation of the aged bared wood surface revealing a consecrated chamber indicated this is a sacred Danzo sandalwood sculpture白檀の彫刻像. In addition to the carver's keen attentions to the dynamic body movements, the composition reflects a rare departure distinguished from other traditional representations of the Shitenno. As Japanese history shows that the ichiboku-zukuri carving style was revitalized by the Zen priest Mokujiki Myouman 木食明満 (1718-1810) in the early 19th century, we can safely attributed this fine carving to be a formal religious/spiritual icon carved during the cultural flowering Meiji period (1868-1912) in the late 19th to early 20th century.


Estimated value $3000
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Tamonten Bishamonten close-up

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