For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Virūdhaka (Zōchōten), Guardian King of the South, one of the Devarâjas (Shitennō), or Four Heavenly Guardian Kings (Heian period, c. 1075)
About the Work
Title : Virūdhaka (Zōchōten), Guardian King of the South, one of the Devarâjas (Shitennō), or Four Heavenly Guardian Kings
Year : Heian period, c. 1075
Medium :Wood with traces of polychromy and gilding
Dimensions : H. 69.7 x W. 30.4 x D. 15.5 cm (27 7/16 x 11 15/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :
“…the objects in this case were once part of magnificent architectural and sculptural ensembles intended to render the Western Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha physically present in our earthly realm.”
This particular piece is part of the period which marked a shift in Buddhist art. Sculptors moved from bronze to wood and their works became more decorative. As is common in all types of religious art, Buddhism had its own ways of depicting spiritual transcendence. For instance, the Buddha or bodhisattvas were always represented with a serene facial expression that seemed detached from the ongoings of the material realm.
Virūdhaka (Zōchōten), Guardian King of the South, one of the Devarâjas (Shitennō), or Four Heavenly Guardian Kings is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2740. It is part of the museum’s collection of the North Arcade. This work has been housed at the Fogg Art Museum since 1979.
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