A POWERFUL REPRESENTATION|
13003. SCROLL PAINTING OF THE BUDDHIST GUARDIAN UNGYO. 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, Buddhist prayer beads 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.
Naraen Kongō (那羅延金剛), also called Ungyō (吽形?, "um"-form, general term closed-mouthed statues in aum pair) in Japanese, is depicted either bare-handed or wielding a sword. He symbolizes latent strength, holding his mouth tightly shut. His mouth is rendered to form the sound "hūṃ" or "Un", leading to his alternate name "Ungyō".
Niō (仁王) or Kongōrikishi (金剛力士) are two wrath-filled and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asian Buddhism in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. According to Japanese tradition, they travelled with Gautama Buddha to protect him and there are references to this in the Pāli Canon as well as the Ambaṭṭha Sutta. Within the generally pacifist tradition of Buddhism, stories of dharmapalas justified the use of physical force to protect cherished values and beliefs against evil.