Aizen Myōō

Aizen Myōō

愛染明王像

early 1300s

Wood with black lacquer and red pigments

Overall: 75 x 59 x 35 cm (29 1/2 x 23 1/4 x 13 3/4 in.)

Bequest of Elizabeth M. Skala 1987.185

Location

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The torso, head, and legs of this figure were carved from a single block of wood. Four of the arms were carved separately.

Description

The Buddhist deity Aizen Myōō channels carnal desire into a lust for spiritual enlightenment. In its principal right arm, this figure once held a vajra, a symbolic weapon used to cut through illusion, while its main left arm still grasps the vajra bell rung to bring one to awareness. The lion’s head in Aizen’s hair holds its mouth open to devour thoughts and desires. Holes along the front of the legs show where the sculpture’s base would have been attached.

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