Important Cultural PropertyVaisravana

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  • 1 statue
  • Wood, joined block construction, stone-eyes
  • H 155.5
  • Heian or Kamakura period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 755(彫20)

This Hoppouten (north) statue is one of the Shitenno (Four Heavenly Kings) that is said to have come down to the Hokuen-do in the Kofuku-ji temple, but the present location is unknown. Three other statues also exist (refer to the section on Zouchoten (south)). The head in armor is inclined to the left and the eyebrows are lowered with angry eyes and an open mouth. It looks sternly at the pagoda placed on its palm while raising its right arm high above its head. The statue holds a stick in its left hand, and stands with its waist twisted to the right and a demon's head under its right foot and the demon's hip under its outwardly opened left foot. Although the statue has lively features in its angry eyes and nose, other features such as its short neck and ample body, modest movements and dynamic body structures add a sense of dignity that reminds one of the carving technique known as Ichibokucho in the early Heian period (carving a sculpture from a single block of wood). The body part is carved from a single block of hinoki cypress with the inside being hollowed out and a backboard is attached to the back, while the head is made from another material. Another material is also used for the eyes, which also feature a finishing touch of color. A painting technique known as Shippaku (gilding after lacquering) was used for part of the waist armor. These features are common to Zouchoten statues and both are estimated to have been created by sculptors of Buddha statues in Nara in the late Heian period. The features of this magnificent and lively life-sized statue form a historical lineage of the Shitenno statues in Nanto between the late Heian period and the early Kamakura period.