The Wisdom King Fudō


The Wisdom King Fudō

Paintings / Kamakura

Kamakura period, 14th century

Color on silk



The Wisdom King Fudō is an incarnation of the Buddha Dainichi, whose frightening appearance serves to propagate the teachings of Buddhism. His body is blue with a frown on his face and his right eyebrow raised, and his upper and lower fangs showing between his lips. In his right hand he holds a sword to cut worldly desires, and his left holds a rope for binding people who do not obey Buddhist teachings. On the right side of the painting, there are two attendants in the form of children. On the left, Kongara holds a lotus flower and offers it to Fudō with a docile expression. To the right, in contrast, Seitaka has red skin and holds a club with a mischievous expression. The figure on the left side is Kurikararyū, the incarnation of Fudō’s sword. Roaring flames are painted in the background. These are called “Garuda flames” and were breathed out by a legendary bird called Garuda or shaped in Garuda’s image. If you look closely, doesn’t it look like a bird of flames trying to beat its wings? Different painters depict the Garuda flames of the Wisdom King Fudō in a variety of ways, and it can be fun to compare them.

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