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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