"Guardian Kings" (Kongō Rikishi)

"Guardian Kings" (Kongō Rikishi)

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Author/ School/ Dating:

Japan, Edo period, 19th century

Technique and Dimensions:

Wood, Pair of sculpted figures constructed by assembling a number of polychrome wooden block sculptures, height 35.3 and 35.4 cm


Gallery II, display case 10 (inv. no. Sc 5/6)


Edoardo Chiossone Collection, testamentary bequest, 1898

Object Type:



The two "Guardian Kings" (Niō 仁王), "Lightning bearers" (vajrapāṇi), Agyō and Ungyō are represented standing on a rocky base. The plastic pose, the musculature and the concentrated face characterize these protective figures of Buddhism.
They were probably made as models for larger sculptures: the Niō statues are in fact placed at the entrance of Buddhist temples, to protect the faithful and the Temple space, and can reach 8 metres in height. These models are made with the Yosegi zukuri technique, "structure of assembled wooden pieces".