Fudō Myōō (Acalanātha) and Eight Child Acolytes (Kumāras)


Fudō Myōō (Acalanātha) and Eight Child Acolytes (Kumāras)

Japanese paintings / Nara

Kamakura period, 13th-14th century

Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk

H 129.6, W 89.3


Provenance: Shakamon-in Temple, Mt. Kōya,


Fudō-myō’ō (Acalanātha) was supposed to have the power to eliminate obstacles to Buddhism. As he was supposed to have been sent on a mission by Dainichi-nyorai (Mahāvairocana), he is sometimes called Fudō Shisha (Emissary Fudō). In turn, eight young attendants (Kumāras), including Kongara (Kiṃkara) and Seitaka (Ceṭaka), work as Fudō-myō’ō’s emissaries. The figure of Fudō-myō’ō introduced in this article follows the Buddhist painter Genchō’s iconographical style, which was established during the Heian period, whereas the styles of the images of the eight attendants were probably created by the artist, who may have referred to several different iconographical styles. The flaming halo consists of the shapes of three sacred birds called Karura (Garudas). The fire is arranged in such a way as to surround all the figures in the painting, so that the power of Fudō, which is burning down all the evil obstacles, is emphasized. It is notable that there are hardly any decorative aspects in this painting, and gold or silver are hardly used. As a result, the emphasis is on the outlines of the figures.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.61, no.44.

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