National TreasureNitten (Skt., Surya)

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  • Height: 144.0cm Width: 127.0cm
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • A甲283-2

Nitten (“sun deva”) is called Surya in Sanskrit and is portrayed in the form of a bodhisattva (an enlightened Buddhist being). Originally an Indian deity, Nitten 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 here is that the deity sits on a felt pedestal, instead of on a cart pulled by three to seven white horses.