Japan / Zao Gongen / Heian period (794?1185), 11th??12th centuryJapan
Zao Gongen
Heian period (794?1185), 11th??12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Japan
Title: Zao Gongen
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1199
Creation Date: Heian period (794?1185), 11th??12th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Gilt Bronze
Dimensions: H. 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm)

The syncretic nature of Japanese religious life is evident in the icons and practices associated with the deity Zao Gongen, the abiding spirit of Mount Kimpu, in the Yoshino Mountains south of Nara. Zao was the protective deity of Shugendo, a Shinto-Buddhist cult devoted to ascetic practices and mountain worship. Images of him are based on the vajra-bearing guardians of the Buddhist pantheon.

This finely cast bronzed image of Zao Gongen expresses the fervor of his cult in the latter half of the Heian period, as well as the refined aesthetic sense of the Fujiwara aristocrats who were its most powerful adherents. Poised on one leg, Zao brandishes a now-missing vajra (thunderbolt scepter); his might and ferocity are rendered in a sensitively modeled form embellished with delicately chased designs on the windswept garment. This icon was probably placed in a grotto similar to the one in which it was discovered in modern times, still worshipped, in a village on the Japan Sea north of Kyoto.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1975.268.155
Credit Line: The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art . All rights reserved.
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/education/er_photo_lib.asp
AMICA ID: MMA_.1975.268.155
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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