Traces of pigment on the surface of these sculptures indicate they were once painted.
These sculptures represent kami, the name for deities associated with the Japanese religious tradition known as Shinto. They are said to have originally been created for the Usa Hachiman shrine in Oita on the island of Kyushu. Usa Hachiman Shrine houses four main kami: Hime Okami, who assists those engaged in agriculture and sea travel; the legendary 5th-century emperor Ojin deified as the kami Hachiman; Empress Jingu; and the kami of Mount Kawara, who aids copper miners. The identities of these two figures are unknown, but they belong to a larger group containing at least three other deities.
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