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Zouchoten - Japanese spelling
Zōchōten 增長天
King of the South, Lord of Spiritual Growth
Associations = South, Summer, Fire, Prosperity, Red


ORIGIN = Hindu deity incorporated into Buddhism.
Member of the TENBU, SHITENNŌ, DEVA
One of Four Heavenly Kings Who Guard East, West, North, South
Governed by Taishakuten (Skt. = Indra), Lord of the Center

Japanese Mantra

おん びろだきゃ やきしゃ
ぢはたえい そわか


On Birodakya Yakisha Jihataei Sowaka (or)
On Birodakya Yakisha Jihataei Sowaka
 

Zochoten (metal statue) - Hase Dera in Kamakura
Zōchōten at Hase Dera, Kamakura.
Modern, Metal. Click image to enlarge.

Zouchoten -- Sanskrit BI or VI
Sanskrit Seed
for Zōchōten

Pronounced
BI or VI in Japan


Zochouten, Kofukuji Temple, Height 202.2 cm, Painted Wood, 12th Century, Yosegi-zukuri, Source: Vol. 1, Nihon no Butsuzou
Zochouten, H = 202.2 cm
Kōfukuji 興福寺 Temple
Painted Wood, 12th C.
Yosegi zukuri carving
Photo: 日本の仏像 Vol. 1

ZŌCHŌTEN 増長天 literally means “lord who expands, lord who enlarges.” This is sometimes translated as Sprouting Growth, to indicate Zōchōten’s role as a catalyst of spiritual growth. Zōchōten is one of the four Shintennō, a group of fierce-looking (忿怒相 funnusō) guardian deities who protect the four cardinal directions. In artwork, the four typically surround the central deity on Buddhist altars. Zōchōten protects the southern quarter. Like the other members of the Shintennō group, Zōchōten is dressed in armor (yoroi 鎧) and standing atop a demon (jaki 邪鬼). Zōchōten is often depicted holding a halberd in the right hand, with the left hand clenched on the hip. However, the deity’s attributes are not rigidly prescribed. The oldest statue of Zōchōten in Japan (see photo below), dated to the middle 7th century, is located at Hōryūji Temple 法隆寺 in Nara. Zōchōten is the Buddhist equivalent to the Red Bird of Chinese mythology. The color associated with Zōchōten in Japan is commonly red, while in mainland Asia it is blue -- these colors are not rigidly prescribed. One resource says Zōchōten’s helmet is sometimes depicted as though made from the skin of an elephant's head (note: I’ve not yet found any example of this in Japan).  

 

VARIOUS SPELLINGS & ASSOCIATIONS

  • Japanese = Zōchōten, Zochoten, Zouchoten 增長天
  • Sanskrit = Virūḍhaka, Virudhaka
  • Chinese. = Zēngcháng Tiān, Tseng-ch'ang T'ien
  • Korean = 증장천, Jeungjang Cheon, Chŭngjang Ch'ŏn
  • Tibetan = Phag pa'i kye po
  • South, Summer, Fire, Prosperity, Red (Blue in India, Tibet, China)
  • King of the South, One Who Expands Wisdom & Moderation.
  • Deva of Increase and Growth
  • Dwells in and protects the southern continent Nansenbushū 南贍部洲 (Skt. = Jambudvīpa) surrounding Mt. Shumisen 須弥山 (Skt. = Mt. Sumeru). This mountain is the mythical home of the Historical Buddha and other deities. Zōchōten lives atop Mt. Lapis Lazuli.
  • Rules over the Gaki 餓鬼 (Hungry Ghosts; Skt. = Preta-gati)
  • Rules over the Kuhanda 鳩槃荼 (Skt. = Kumbhâṇḍa, Kumbhanda), a type of spirit-sucking Yasha 夜叉 (Skt. = Yaksha) who drain the vitality of people, said in some texts to have human form but with the head of a horse, or said to be demons with huge testicles or shaped like gourds, or to have scrotums shaped like gourds <source Digital Dictionary of Chinese Buddhism>.
  • Appears in the southern portion of the Gekongōbu-in 外金剛部院. (outer section) of the Taizōkai Mandala 胎蔵界曼荼羅 (Womb World, Matrix Realm).
  • Appears in various other mandala, including the Ten Realms Mandala and Hōrōkaku Mandala.
  • In Nichiren sects, Zōchōten is #27 on the Gohonzon 御本尊 diagram.
  • Nearly always dressed in armor (yoroi 鎧), looking ferocious (funnusō 忿怒相), and carrying weapons or objects (jimotsu 持物) said to eliminate evil influences and suppress the enemies of Buddhism. Also typically shown standing atop evil spirits (known as Jaki in Japan), symbolizing the power to repel and defeat evil. Sometimes depicted with a fiery halo.
  • Often depicted holding a spear and a sword, or a halberd and sword. The deity’s attributes, however, are not rigidly prescribed and thus differ among Buddhist nations.
  • Oldest extant statue of Zōchōten is part of a set of four Shitennō statues possessed by Hōryūji Temple 法隆寺 in Nara that dates to the mid-7th Century. See photo below.

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Zouchouten, Koya-san, Kongobuji Temple, dated to Kamakura period, 13th century
Zōchōten 増長天
Painted Wood, Height = 135.1 cm
Dated to early Kamakura era, 13th century
Mt. Kōya 高野山, Kongōbuji Temple 金剛峰寺
Originally located at Todaiji (Tōdaiji) Temple 東大寺
Photo Source = Vol. 10 日本の仏像

Zochouten, Toshodaiji Temple, 187.2 cm, Wood and Dry Lacquer, Nara Era (Late 8th century)
Zōchōten 増長天
Height = 187.2 cm, Wood and Dry Lacquer
Nara Era (Late 8th century), Tōshōdaiji Temple 唐招提寺
Photo Source = Vol. 13 日本の仏像

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Zochouten, Todaiji Temple, H = 300 cm, Dated Nara Era, 8th Century, Hollow Dry Lacquer
Zōchōten 増長天,  H = 300 cm
Dated to Nara Era, 8th Century, Hollow Dry Lacquer
Todaiji (Tōdaiji) Temple 東大寺
Photo = Comprehensive Dictionary Japan's Nat'l Treasures
国宝大事典 (西川 杏太郎)  ISBN 4-06-187822-0
Zochoten, Toji Temple, Heian 839 AD, Height = 184.2 cm, Wood
Zōchōten 増長天,  H = 184.2 cm, Wood
Dated to Heian Era, 839 AD
Toji (Tōji) Temple 東寺, Kyoto
 Photo Source = Vol. 4 日本の仏像

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Zochoten at Chusonji Temple, 12th Century
Zōchōten 増長天, Wood, 12th Century
Chūsonji 中尊寺 Temple in Iwate Prefecture

Zouchoten (Virudhaka), 93 cm Wood with Pigment, Heian Era 11 to 12th Century, Houryuu-ji Temple
Zōchōten 増長天, H = 93 cm, Wood with Pigment
 Heian Era 11th-12th Century, Hōryūji Temple 法隆寺 in Nara


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Click any image to jump to that deity's stand-alone page.
Four Shitenno, Horyuji (Hōryūji) Temple 法隆寺, Nara
Mid-7th Century. Oldest extant set of the four.
Kōmokuten 広目天, Zōchōten 増長天, Tamonten 多門天, Jikokuten 持国天
Painted Wood, Each Statue Approx. 133.5 cm in Height
Photos from Comprehensive Dictionary of Japan's Nat’l Treasures
国宝大事典 (西川 杏太郎. ISBN 4-06-187822-0.

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JYAKI (JAKI) DEMON - 邪鬼
In Japan, the
Four Shitennō Guardians are almost always shown stepping on evil demons called Jyaki or Tentōki. This iconography symbolizes the power of the Shitennō to repel and defeat evil.

Tentoki at Hase Dera in Kamakura (metal statues) Tentoki at Hase Dera in Kamakura (metal statues) Tentoki at Hase Dera in Kamakura (metal statues)
Jaki (Jyaki) at Hase Dera in Kamakura (click any image to enlarge)
 
Click here for more details about the Jyaki demons.

Zouchoten
Contemporary etching (glass) of the
8th century statue at Tōdaiji Temple 東大寺 in Nara
Courtesy: www.atomic77.net/5company/2003_6.html

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