Merciful Bodhisattvas, Terrifying Deities

The Nezu Museum

poster for Merciful Bodhisattvas, Terrifying Deities

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This Merciful Bodhisattvas, Terrifying Deities exhibition presents approximately thirty-five superb examples of Buddhist painting and sculpture from the Asuka through the Edo periods (from the 7th to the 17th centuries). It provides an opportunity to consider the expressions on these divine beings’ faces and the meanings conveyed by them. Buddhist divine beings can be divided into three types in terms of their forms and functions. One is the solemn nyorai (buddha), who embodies the truths of Buddhism. A second is the compassionate bosatsu (bodhisattva), who rescues people from suffering and grants them happiness and peace. The third type includes the furious deities such as myōō or wisdom kings, who subdue those who do not follow the teachings and enemies of the Dharma. Ten (deva) such as the Shitennō (Four Heavenly Kings) are also part of the third type. People sought peaceful lives in this world by praying to the noble Shaka-nyorai (Śakyamuni), seeking aid from the compassionate Kannon-bosatsu (Avalokiteśvara), surrendering delusions and evil thoughts to the rage of Fudō-myōō (Acala), and turning to Bishamon-ten (Vaiśravana, one of the Four Heavenly Kings) for comfort.

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from July 25, 2019 to August 25, 2019

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