A fine Japanese Carving of the Buddhist Guardian Deity Zochoten
|Size||Height: 45.5cm whole figure with the spear. Standing Figure only 27cm|
This finely carved figure of the Japanese Guardian Figure of Zochten, he is Guardian Figure worshipped as a Protector Deity. Known as Virudhaka in Tibetan Buddhism described in the superb resource website ” The Himalayan Art Resources ” as ” the leader of Kumbhanda and Guardian of the Southern Direction. He is worshipped as a protector deity and he lives on the southern side of Mount Meru in the Heaven of the Four Great Kings. He has sworn an oath to the Shakyamuni Buddha. The stories & iconography of the Four Guardian Kings arose in the early Buddhist Sutras. ”
Here the figure of the Japanese Guardian Figure of Zochten is seen trampling on a Amanojaku or Heavenly Evil Spirit like an Oni that appears in Japanese folklore. This creature has entered Buddhist thoughts and is considered an opponent of Buddhist teachings and he is being trampled on and subdued by the Guardian Zochten and the righteousness of the Buddhas teachings thus showing good prevailing over evil.
This artwork was made by a very skilled and confident artist likely in the late 19th Century, though it could be earlier. There are much earlier Zochten Figures in museum Japan and elsewhere where they have beautiful classical Chinese & Japanese attributes where this example is more a folk art carving possibly made for a local shrine in the countryside.
I think highly of this figure as an artwork, carved from heavy wood in three pieces; The Guardian Figure and the Oni he is trampling on, the third piece is the spear itself. Both figures are painted in red and black and in good light, you can see the Guardian leggings are striped. The Oni is mostly red except for his black hair.
Provenance: Private Collection Japan and The Todd Barlin Collection of Buddhist Art
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