Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary (5)

by Yoshihisa

Tips for the Appreciation of Buddhist Statuary (5)     This is the last section about Buddhist statuary.  This time let's learn about Ten-bu ( Deva ) deities that have a role of guarding Buddha's Law.  Most of the ten-bu were originally deities of Brahmanism and Hinduism and were incorporated into Buddhism.  They are ranked below myo-oh, but were established long before myo-oh statues were made.  There are two types of ten-bu: Goho-shin, who protects Buddha's Law and faithful followers of Buddhism, and Fukutoku-shin, who brings us happiness and worldly benefits.

     Statues of ten-bu group excel nyorai, bosatsu and myo-oh statues in number and have different historical backgrounds.  For this reason, ten-bu statues have various characters and appearances.  They represent deities of high birth, warriors clad in armor, half-human and half-animal bodies and demonic spirits.  In this section, allow me to choose some of the ten-bu statues you might encounter at famous temples in Kyoto and Nara.

     Bon-ten was originally the Creator of Universe in Brahmanism and Hinduism and was incorporated into Buddhism.  He is usually dressed in Chinese clothes of noble class.  He is often paired with Taishaku-ten, who was a guardian deity of warriors clad in armor with a kongosho weapon in a hand.  The oldest pair of Bon-ten and Taishaku-ten in Japan are housed in Tohji Temple, Kyoto, along with Godai Myo-oh statues introduced in the former section.  Taishaku-ten in Tohji Temple sits on a white elephant.  

     Kongo Rikishi ( Deva King ) statues usually welcome visitors at temple gates in pairs.  They are supposed to protect temples from outside enemies.  They look like sumo wrestlers with a scowling face and a kongosho in a hand.  The statue with an open mouth is called Agyo, and the one with a closed mouth is Umgyo.   A (あ) is the first letter in Sanskrit and also the first kana letter of Japanese, and Um (ん) is the last letter in Sanskrit and the last kana letter just like alphabetical A and Z.  This represents  that they see and know everything from the beginning to the end.  The most famous Kongo Rikishi  statues are found at Nandaimon ( South Great Gate ) of Todaiji Temple, Nara.  The statues ( about 8 meters tall ) are said to have been sculpted by Unkei, Kaikei and their 20 followers in only 69 days in 1203.

     Shitenno are Four Heavenly Kings, who are said to provide protection in four directions; Jikoku-ten ( east ), Zocho-ten ( south ), Koumoku-ten ( west ) and Tammon-ten ( north ).  They are placed in four directions in a worship hall with a role of protecting nyorai or bosatsu statues.  All of the four statues crush underfoot demon monsters symbolizing evil spirits.  One of the most famous groups of Shitenno statues is housed in Kondo Hall, Horyuji Temple, Nara.

     Hachibu-shu is the general term for eight guardian deities who specially pledged loyalty to Shaka Nyorai among the deities of other ancient religions who gave devotion to Buddha.  Hachibu literally means eight tribes and shu is a collective term for a group of people. Each statue of Hachibu-shu  has its own name and character.  For example, Kendappa is a music deity, Yasha a flying demon deity and Karura a deity with a bird head that eats evil dragons.  Of the eight deities, the most famous and popular is Ashura, a deity of wars. You can see an excellent display of Hachibu-shu statues in the National Treasure House of Kohfukuji Temple, Nara.  In this house I strongly recommend you have a close look at Tentoki ( open mouth ) and Ryutoki ( closed mouth ) statues with lanterns.  Before they were converted to Buddhism, they were demon monsters stomped by Shitenno.  Now they stand shedding lantern light to the feet of Shaka Nyorai with their noses stuck up in the air.  What a humorous look!  

     Juni-shinsho ( Twelve Heavenly Generals ) are twelve guardian deities that protect Yakushi Nyorai.  Each deity is clad in armor holding a weapon.  The number twelve is very important in that they provide protection for the twelve directions, twelve periods of time and twelve eto ( the twelve zodiac signs in Chinese astrology ).  The oldest Juni-shinsho statues in Japan, made of clay in Nara period ( 710-784 ), are housed in the main hall of Shin-Yakushiji Temple, a short walk from Kasuga Grand Shrine, Nara.  Of the twelve statues, the most appealing is General Bazara standing in the right front with a furious look and ruffled hair.  In contrast with Bazara stands General Indara in the left front with a self-possessed look.

     In additon to the ten-bu statues, there are many other Buddhist statues which do not belong to the four groups of statues, but it must be remembered that the wishes and devotion of the people are curved into every and each Buddhist statue and each statue has its own social and historical background.  This concludes the tips for the appreciation of Buddhist statuary.  Lastly I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to those who have kindly read my passages to the end.

    

 

 


27 Aug 2016

Yoshihisa

Licensed Guide
(39) Reviews

Plan your trip to Kyoto with Yoshihisa

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Send a message

Recent Tour Reviews in Kyoto

“ Excellent guide. Knowledgeable, attentive and very fit!! ”

Excellent
9 hours ago Traveler: Christopher -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshihisa is an impressive tour guide, Knowledgeable and super attentive. Highly recommended for private tours. If you are looking for an experienced guide, who is fluent in English, sticks to the itinerary (and more), then you MUST try Yoshie's private Kyoto tour. You will not be disappointed. 10 stars from me!! Great Job!
read more

“ Fantastic, knowledgeable guide ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: Susan -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshi was a great guide, we had a wonderful day touring old Kyoto with him. He was extremely knowledgeable, polite, friendly and helpful. We saw so many amazing places and learnt a lot. We thoroughly recommend him.
read more

“ Haiku experience ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Don -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshi is a very good guide. We booked an extra hour and were able to see a few more places beyond his base 'favorite golden tour'. He gave us a lesson in Haiku history during our tour and showed us the places where it actually happened. If we had tried to find our own way around, we would not have seen 1/3 of what we did. Plus we would not have met a very kind person. Thank you for everything, Yos...
read more

“ Two wonderfull days at Kansai Area ! ”

Very Good
1 month ago Traveler: Anton -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshie has a very fluent english, reply our email in an instant, very prompt in schedule, and accomodate our want to go places/itinerary very well. Yoshie guided Our group of 10 people were mostly elderly, through Kyoto and Kobe, with patience and were willing to be flexible when needed. Unfortunately our bus broke down in Kyoto but he managed to arrange alternarive train and got us home safel...
read more

“ Great day with Yoshi! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Sandra -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

3 of us spent a 1/2 day with Yoshi and it was a great time! We chose to go to the bamboo forest, monkey park, and then a secret shrine that he selected which was my favorite on my trip to Japan. It was atop a mountain that was moss covered and just absolutely beautiful surroundings. Yoshi kept up a quick pace which was perfect for us, and we really were able to see a lot of things in the 5 hours w...
read more

“ Outstanding Guide! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Geoff -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshie guided me for a full day to some of Kyotos important sites. I only wish I could of spent even more days with him as he is most knowledgeable about topics like history, culture, art, poetry, landscape, Japanese religion, and more. Yoshie came very prepared to describe what I was visiting. He also took me to different city viewpoints that his physical fitness allowed us to get to. Most impor...
read more

“ Wonderful Trip to Japan made even better with Yoshi's help ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Anna -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Traveling to a foreign country for the first time is challenging, no matter how seasoned of a traveler is. The language, the climate, and simply navigating your way around can be daunting. Even with the best planning, unless you have lot's of time to spare and don't mind getting lost. Plus the fact that there are simply details of where to go and HOW to get there is usually best left to someone l...
read more

“ Golden tour of Kyoto with two chikdren ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Vicki -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

We took the Golden tour of Kyoto with Yoshie and it was amazing. We were traveling with our 7 and 8 year old children and my son had hurt his foot and was using a wheelchair. It was challenging but yoshie was patient and we saw everything. We walked 7 miles that day and took many trains but it was worth it. Every single site was fantastic and we learned so much from Yoshie. We also went to the M...
read more

“ Very Friendly, Very Knowledgable ”

Excellent
4 months ago Traveler: Joe -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

We saw a week's worth of sights in one day touring with Yoshie! He prepared an incredible itinerary, and we really got to see all the highlights of Kyoto. He's a great communicator and incredibly knowledgeable about the sights and the surrounding areas. Highly recommended!
read more

“ Tour of Nara and Kobe ”

Excellent
5 months ago Traveler: Serene -   Tour Guide: Yoshihisa

Yoshie-san was friendly and warm. My family really enjoyed his company and guidance. He took us to quaint restaurants, something that we appreciated and not the usual touristy restaurants. He is knowledgeable and has a good command of English. We really look forward to meeting him again in the near future!
read more

Related cities