Important Cultural PropertyStanding Zōchōten (Skt. Virūḍhaka)

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  • 木造増長天立像
  • 1 statue
  • Wood with pigments
  • H 163.2
  • Heian or Kamakura period/12th century
  • Nara National Museum
  • 1114(彫103)

  This is the Guardian of the South among the Four Heavenly Kings, which were originally handed down to the Northern Round Hall, Kōfukuji Temple. However, the provenance of the Hall is doubtful, and the true place of origin is unknown. Among the Four Heavenly Kings, the standing Kōmokuten (Skt. Virūpākṣa) is still owned by Kōfukuji Temple, this standing Zōchōten (Skt. Virūḍhaka) and Tamonten (Skt. Vaiśravaṇa) are in this museum’s possession and the standing Jikokuten (Skt. Dhṛtarāṣṭra) is possessed by Miho Museum. This statue represents Zōchōten raising his right arm with a trident-like weapon in his right hand. With his left hand on his hips, he twists his hips leftward and presses down on an evil demon spirit with his right foot on its head and his left foot on its back. While it cannot be denied that the physical dynamism is slightly repressed, his frowning, threatening facial expression with an open mouth and a fierce look is quite powerful. Despite the armor he wears, it can be clearly seen that he has a big-boned physique with firm muscles. The feeling of heavy massiveness or the weighty tone this statue exudes suggests that the traditional massive expression was preserved and maintained by the Nara Buddhist sculptors even in the late Heian period (794–1185). Such a massive expression is common to the expression of the standing Tamonten (1159) and Jikokuten (1178) of Tōdaiji Temple, which were originally handed down to Uchiyama Eikyūji Temple. Moreover, it is like the expression of the statues Four Heavenly Kings placed in the Tentative Golden Hall of Kōfukuji Temple, which are estimated to have been created to commemorate the recovery of the Southern Round Hall of Kōfukuji Temple (1189) after the war fire in Jishō period (1180). This statue constitutes part of the group of the Four Heavenly Kings statues of Kōfukuji Temple that was formed over the period from the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period (1185–1333). There are different views as to the creation year of this statue: while some say that this was created in the mid-Heian period (eleventh century), others insist on the early Kamakura period (late twelfth century). However, they all agree that it was created by Nara Buddhist sculptor.