Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)
Fudo, one of the Five Great Kings of Light, is a manifestation of Vairocana, the Universal Buddha; he is especially worshipped in the esoteric Shingon, or True Word, school of Buddhism. His wrathful appearance, emphasized by his fierce visage and flaming halo, symbolizes Vairocana’s rage against wickedness; ignorance, that is, illusions; and the worldly desires that hinder enlightenment. His attributes are his sword of wisdom, which cuts through delusion, and a rope to bind those ruled by violent passions. His upward-protruding tooth signifies the striving for truth; the tooth pointing downward signals his concern for the suffering of beings. The seven knots of his hair, styled like a servant’s, signify his intention to help, however aggressively. Standing on a rocky base, Fudo is flanked by two attendants. Kongara doji, a pale teenage boy, holds a sharp weapon to skewer worldly passions. Seitaka doji, his skin the color of a red lotus, personifies expedient action.
All of Fudo’s seemingly contradictory aspects are specified in Buddhist writings; this image is, in effect, a pictorial text. Above all, despite his fiery and intimidating demeanor, Fudo’s mission to save humanity from evil arises from profound compassion.
[T]he secrets of the sutras . . . can be depicted in art. . . . Art is what reveals to us the state of perfection. —Buddhist priest Kukai, 774–835
ink and color on silk
39-1/2 x 15-11/16 in. (image) 70-1/4 x 23-3/4 in. (overall)
Please complete the following questions to further improve the image files and metadata made available to IMA users. If you select Scholarly or Commercial as the Intended Use you will be prompted to provide additional details about your specific use in order that the IMA can retain the record of how image reproductions of works in its collection are utilized.
Public domain collection images downloaded from the IMA website should be credited: “Image courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.” Additional caption information is provided with the downloaded image files and image use contracts, if applicable.
If you require a high quality TIFF file for your publication or product, please complete the Image Request Form.