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Gallery Text

Surrounded by a ring of fire, brandishing a weapon in

each of his six hands, and wearing a lion’s head crown

capped with a thunderbolt atop his flaming hair: this is

the deity Aizen Myōō, Wisdom King of Passion, whose

burning wrath is as arresting as it is unmistakable.

An important recent acquisition, this painting dates

to around the same period as the sculpture of Prince

Shōtoku (c. 1292), which contained two smaller

sculptures of Aizen displayed in the adjacent gallery.

The work is a rare portrait of the sculptural icon of the

deity once installed at the temple of Ninnaji, in Kyoto.

Painting sculptures was a practice usually reserved for

icons said to have performed miracles; notably, the monk

Eison’s rituals to Aizen were credited with whipping up

the divine winds that prevented the Mongol invasions of

Japan in 1274 and 1281.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Aizen Myoo
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
13th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
painting proper: H. 118.4 × W. 58.9 cm (46 5/8 × 23 3/16 in.)
overall mounting, including roller ends and suspension cord: H. 213.4 × W. 84.5 cm (84 × 33 1/4 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Mutō Sanji (1867-1934), Tokyo (by 1924), sold; to Morita Echizan, Osaka (1924 to unknown). Kanda Yoshio, Osaka, (by 2011), sold; to The London Gallery, Tokyo, (2011-2019), sold; Harvard Art Museums, 2019.

NB: Kanda Yoshio, son-in-law of Morita Echizan.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for Asian Art and through the Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Exhibition History

Verification Level

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