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Taishakuten

10th century

Single, carved block of Japanese torreya wood with traces of gesso and polychrome

104.2 x 48.2 x 19 cm (41 x 19 x 7 1/2 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
1963.31

Taishakuten is a Buddhist deity transformed from a Vedic god. He is depicted as a mighty warrior and guardian of the Buddhist faith, recognizable by his breastplates. This is representative of fine tenth-century Japanese sculpture, combining vigorous modeling with calm expression. The stocky torso, bulky face, and wide neck lend a sense of mass, while the flexed leg, wavy sleeves, and arms suggest motion and poise. With the exception of the left sleeve and the right hand, the entire figure was carved out of a single block of wood, a technique characteristic of early Heian sculpture. Traces of pigment on its garment suggest that the surface was once covered with colored lacquer that has since worn, revealing the natural beauty of the wood underneath.

Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Heian period (794–1185)
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view*
Bibliography: 

George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 38–39, no. 59, ill.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 100–101, ill.

Handbook of the Collections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 303, ill.

Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 36.

Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan, “The Interstitial Buddha: Picturing the Death of Sakyamuni,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 50–52, fig. 5.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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