Important Cultural PropertyUsusama Myôô (Ucchausma)

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  • Hanging scroll
  • Height 78.0cm Width 58.0cm
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • A甲543

Paintings of the deity Ususama Myôô (Skt., Ucchausma) were used as the primary icons of worship in a Buddhist ritual called the Ususamahô, conducted for good health, increased prosperity, the vanquishing of evil, and fertility. Also known as Katô Kongô and Ejaku Kongô, Ususama Myoô is endowed with the power to purify all defilements and is worshipped as one of the Five Radiant Wisdom Kings (J., Godai Myoô) by Tendai esoteric Buddhism.
We can further identify this painting with the Tendai sect by its iconography, as the three eyes and six arms are consistent with imagery in Besson Zakki (Miscellaneous Record of Classified Sacred Images)―a compendium of iconographic drawings associated with the Tendai priest Enchin (814-891). The painting uses very little cut gold leaf or polychromatic decoration; instead it achieves a more subdued effect through the use of gold leaf applied to the backside of the silk under the deity’s ornaments and implements. Such stylistic tendencies are typical of Tendai paintings of the early Kamakura period and allow us to date this work to the 13th century. Through not visible in this photograph, the mounting fabrics used in this scroll include fragments of a polychromatic Kamakura-period mandala and a Nanbokucho-period mandala in gold paint on purple silk, in which Sanskrit seed letters replace the Buddhist images.