A POWERFUL REPRESENTATION|
13003. SCROLL PAINTING OF THE BUDDHIST GUARDIAN ACALA. Japan, Meiji Period, late 19th century. Hanging scroll, ink on silk. Signed 久遠 (Kuon or Kudo) but I have not deciphered the stylized character used for the seal. Depicting the fanged blue guardian demon holding a sword erect in his right hand, a noose in his left hand and the golden lotus flower of enlightenment on the crown of his head. The painting 42 x 16 inches on a 74 x 21 inch scroll. Unfortunate damp stains but otherwise generally excellent condition. Signed Kuon/Kudo and sealed. Provenance: Acquired in Tokyo in the early 1960's by the current owner. Full view. Closer. Even closer. Artist's signature.
Acala (Sanskrit: "immovable") is a dharmapala primarily revered in Vajrayana Buddhism, particularly in Tangmi in Japan, China and elsewhere. He is classed among the Wisdom Kings and preeminent among the Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm. Accordingly, his figure occupies an important hierarchical position in the pictorial diagramatic Mandala of the Two Realms. In Japan, Acala is revered in the Shingon Buddhism, Tendai, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism and in Shugendō. Descriptions of his physical appearance derive from such scriptural source as the Mahavairocana Tantra (大日経 Dainichikyō?) and its annotation.
His face is expressive of extreme wrath, wrinkle-browed,left eye squinted or looking askance, lower teeth biting down the upper lip. He has the physique of a corpulent (round-bellied) child. He bears a sword in his right hand, and a lariat or noose (羂索 kensaku?) in his left hand. He is engulfed in flame, and seated on a huge rock base (盤石座 banjakuza?).
Acala is said to be a powerful deity who protects all the living (衆生 shujō?) by burning away all impediments antarāya (障難 shōnan?) and defilements, thus aiding them towards enlightenment. shōnan In Japanese esoteric Buddhism, according to an arcane interpretive concept known as the three cakra bodies (三輪身 san rinjin?) Acala and the rest of the five wisdom kings are considered embodiments of the wheel of injunction (教令輪身 kyōryō tenshin?), or beings whose actions constitute the teaching of the law (the other embodiments teach by word, or merely by their manifest existence). Under this conceptualization, the wisdom kings are ranked superior to the dharmapala (護法善神 gohō zenshin?), a different class of guardian deities.