Acala Vidy^ar^aja (Fudō Myōō) and Two Attendants
Acala Vidy^ar^aja (Fudō Myōō) and Two Attendants

Image Resources | Not Currently on View

Acala Vidy^Ar^Aja (Fudō Myōō) And Two Attendants

Nambokucho


purchased in Japan by J. Arthur MacLean

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

Object Information

nationality
Japanese
period
Nambokucho
creation date
1336-1392
materials
ink and color on silk
dimensions
39-1/2 x 15-11/16 in. (image)
70-1/4 x 23-3/4 in. (overall)
accession number
13.49
credit line
John Herron Fund
collection
Asian Art
colors