Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

With his bright red skin, white fangs, multiple arms, flaming hair, and lion’s head crown, Aizen Myōō embodies the Cosmic Buddha’s wrath against evil spirits. Its placement inside the sculpture of Prince Shōtoku is an important indicator of the cultic identity of the people who commissioned and venerated it. The reformist monk Eison (1201–1290) is credited with warding off two attempted invasions of Japan by the Mongols with nation-saving rituals to Aizen. Eison championed a movement known as Shingon-Ritsu, which called for a return to the proper observation of monastic rules for living, including the establishment of nunneries. His personal icon, a modestly sized sculpture of Aizen, remains at his temple of Saidaiji, in Nara, to this day.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Small Seated Image of Rãgavidyiarãja (Japanese: Aizen Myōō)
Other Titles
Transliterated Title: Aizen Myōō
Work Type
figurine, sculpture
Kamakura period, datable to circa 1292
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Wood with polychromy
H. 10.1 cm (4 in.)
[Yamanaka Shoji Co., Ltd, Awata Kyoto (1936)], sold; to Ellery Sedgwick, Beverly, MA, (1936-1960), passed; to his wife, Marjorie Russell, Beverly, MA (1960-1971), inherited; by Ellery Sedgwick, Jr., Gates Mills, Ohio, (1971-1991), inherited; by Walter Sedgwick, Woodside, CA, (1991-2019), partial and promised gift; to the Harvard Art Museums.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial and promised gift of Walter C. Sedgwick in memory of Ellery Sedgwick Sr. and Ellery Sedgwick Jr.
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

John M. Rosenfield, The Sedgwick Statue of the Infant Shotoku Taishi, Archives of Asian Art (1968-1969), Vol. XXII / pp. 56-79, Fig. 7 / p. 62 (Item I / pp. 62-63)

Exhibition History

Later Chinese and Japanese Figure Painting in Decorative Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1992 - 06/07/1992

Paragons of Wisdom and Virtue: East Asian Figure Painting, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1997 - 09/21/1997

Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/25/2019 - 08/11/2019

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at