Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Guardian Figure (one of the four Shitenno figure)

Polychrome wood

1679 CE; Enpō period

Kyoto (?), Japan

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection


The figure shown here is one of the four Shitenno (guardian/ heavenly) figures of paradise. He is responsible for the protection of one of the four cardinal directions in a Buddhist monastery. Each figure stands on a demon symbolizing the victory over the evil, that is the victory of the Buddhist law. It must have been protecting the central Buddhist figure. Glaring and blazing, he is armoured and stands in a highly animated form that came to become part of the Japanese art from the medieval period. This figure from the CSMVS is not identified. The iconography however suggests that he could be the protector of the south. The exhibit is signed and bears an inscription stating that it was made by a great priest sculptor Fukuji during the Enpo period in Omiya (Kyoto)