National TreasureGatten (Skt., Candra)

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  • ink and color on silk
  • Height: 144.0cm Width: 127.0cm
  • Heian period, 12th-century
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • A甲283-1

Gatten (“sun deva”) is known as Candra in Sanskrit and appears here as a bodhisattva (an enlightened Buddhist being). Originally an Indian deity, Gatten was adopted as a guardian in the esoteric Buddhist pantheon. This painting was made in 1127 (Daiji 2) for the annual New Year’s ceremony of esoteric prayers, the “Latter Seven Day’s Rite” (J., Goshichinichi no mishiho), held in the Shingon-in Hall at the Imperial Palace. One unique characteristic is that the deity sits on a felt pedestal, instead of a white goose as seen in other versions. Also, the attendant to the left holds a half moon with a rabbit on it, which Gatten himself sometimes holds.