Slide 1. Quick Overview. This guide’s main goal is to illustrate “visually” Japan’s taming of a demonic, bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, multi-limbed Vedic / Indic / Hindu deity. Today, this Hindu deity (Mahākāla, a “terrible” form of Śiva) is portrayed as a harmless, human-like, potbellied, jolly fellow in Japan’s religious pantheon. His Japanese name is Daikokuten. Even in his docile bowdlerized Japanese form, he at one time rivalled the power of the benign sun goddess Amaterasu, the supreme kami 神 (native deity) of Japan’s imperial household & the centerpiece of modern Shintō. Today Daikokuten remains one of Japan’s most popular gods of good fortune (e.g., abundant harvests, well-stocked kitchens, lucrative livelihoods). In his standard modern form – portly, dwarfish, jovial, wearing a hat, holding a treasure sack, traveling everywhere to dispense fortune to the people – he is strikingly similar to the Christian world’s Santa Claus. █ The second goal is to underscore the strong influence of India (rather than China) on Japan’s pantheon of gods. In many ways, the religious landscape in Japan is more akin to Japanese Hinduism than to Chinese Buddhism. Śiva is Hindu’s “Lord of Cosmic Destruction” & represents the pinnacle of the DEVA class of Hindu gods (Skt = deva, J = ten 天, E = celestial beings). In the early 9th C., the deva were introduced to Japan via China as part of the esoteric Buddhist teachings brought back by Japanese monks. For the Japanese, the Hindu deva were considered Buddhist figures from the start. But just as the deva transformed themselves when flip-flopping from Hinduism into India’s Buddhist tradition, they morphed again when introduced into the religious traditions of China & Japan. Like Japan’s homespun kami, the Hindu deva (including Śiva = Mahākāla = Daikokuten) were seen as dangerous and in need of further conversion to Buddha’s teachings. Along with the deva came Hindu lore, which greatly influenced Japan’s mythmakers. Even today Śiva (Śaiva) mythologies are woven into a great swath of Japan’s religious tapestry. █ The third goal is to provide scholars, art historians, curators, teachers, & students with a “jumpstart” visual guide to the richness & dynamic complexity of Japan’s religious art. Nearly two millennium of Śiva artwork is organized chronologically & thematically herein. Given space limits, the guide’s “visual canvas” includes art from only India, Central Asia, China, & Japan. Center stage is given to Japanese art from the 9th to 21st centuries. Images come from myriad sources, e.g., Buddhist canon, museums, galleries, temples, shrines, & the WWW. If a cited web page becomes unresponsive, try retrieving it at Internet Way-Back Machine. Underlined terms jump to other pages in this report or to outside web sites. If prompted for a user name, enter “guest.” █ CITATIONS: This guide refers often to the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō 大正新修大藏經 (Buddhist Canon). Published in book form in the 1920s-1930s, the 100-volume Taishō is now digitized, searchable, & contains over 3,000 old Buddhist texts from China & Japan. Twelve of those volumes (known as the Taishō Zuzō 大正図像) feature illustrations of the deities. When citing the Taishō (T) & Taishō Zuzō (TZ), the following format is used: █ T.21.1287.355b08 = Taishō, Vol. 21, Text 1287, Page 355, Row b, Line 08. █ TZ.3.3006.F142 (op. 240) = Taishō Zuzō, Vol. 3, Text 3006, Figure 142 (online photo 240). View English translations of T Index & TZ Index. ABOVE PIX (L-to-R): Slides 12, 17, 20, & 27.
Slide 2. Concepts, Keywords, About the Author. Over the centuries, Daikokuten’s demonic Hindu / Buddhist origins & forms – his “dark side,” his Śiva side – have been largely stripped away & forgotten in Japan. This guide attempts to retrace his mysterious transformation from demonic to benign. Various forms of Śiva were “imported” into Japan starting in the early 9th century. These forms will be examined herein. Some of the most important are: █ Mahākāla. Sanskrit meaning “Great Time” or “Great Black.” A “terrible form” of Śiva and alter ego of the benign Daikokuten. Transliterated 摩訶迦羅. Pronounced “Makakara” in Japan. Translated 大黒天 / 大黒神 / 大黒天神, meaning “Great Black Deity.” Pronounced “Daikokuten / Daikokushin / Daikoku Tenjin” in Japan. The transliterated name (Mahākāla) refers more generally to the Hindu god’s terrible multi-limbed Buddhist form, while the translated name (Daikokuten) refers more generally to the god’s benign human Japanese form. █ Mahêśvara. Sanskrit meaning “Great Lord” or “Omnipotent One.” Transliterated 摩醯首羅. Pronounced “Makeishura” in Japan. Translated 大自在天, meaning “Great Self Existent God.” Pronounced “Daijizaiten” in Japan. █ Īśāna. Sankrit meaning “ruler, master, lord.” One of 12 Deities of Directions (J=Jūniten 十二天), wherein he guards the ominous northeast. Transliterated 伊舎那天. Pronounced “Ishanaten” in Japan. For reasons unknown, the name is not translated. █ Īśvara. Sanskrit meaning “omnipotent being.” Rarely transliterated. One rare example is "Ishura-ten" 伊首羅天. Translated 自在天, meaning “Self Existent God.” Pronounced “Jizaiten” in Japan. █ Supporting Cast. Daikokuten is a leading character on a complex mythological stage, one involving numerous Hindu / Buddhist / Japanese gods related by blood, family resemblances, shared attributes, & similar functions. This “supporting cast” is examined herein as well. See Table of Contents (Slide 3) for their names & relevant slides. █ OTHER CONCEPTS / KEYWORDS: 六大黒天・三面大黒天・出世大黒天・走り大黒天・開運出世大黒天・将軍大黒天・七福神・障礙神 ・守護神・財福の神・道路将軍・縁結びの神・夫婦大黒・風神尊天・福の神・宝珠の玉・竈の神・荒神・風の三郎・堅牢地神・金運の神・荒神 ・摩多羅神・三輪大明神・大物主・大国主命・鼠・蛇・兎・俵 ・打ち出の小槌・智慧袋・大黒柱・大黒頭巾. █ VIEW ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS HERE. █ About the Author. Mark Schumacher is an independent researcher who moved to Kamakura (Japan) in 1993 and still lives there today. His site, The A-to-Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Religious Statuary, has been online since 1995. It is widely referenced by universities, museums, art historians, Buddhist practitioners, and lay people from around the world. The site's focus is medieval Japanese religious art, primarily Buddhist, but it also catalogs art from Shintō, Shugendō, Taoist, and other traditions. The site is constantly updated. As of Sept. 2017, it contained 400+ deities and 4,000+ annotated photos of statuary from Kamakura, Nara, Kyoto, and elsewhere in Japan. I am not associated with any educational institution, private corporation, governmental agency, or religious group. I am a single individual, working at my own pace, limited by my own inadequacies. No one is looking over my shoulder, so I must accept full responsibility for any inaccuracies. I welcome feedback, good or bad. If you discover errors, please contact me directly. I rely on Chinese, Japanese and English sources. I cannot read Korean, Tibetan, Sanskrit, or Central Asian languages, so I must consult secondary sources of scholarship to underpin my findings. ABOVE PHOTOS: Demonic Mahākāla, Muromachi Era (1392–1573), Jōfuku-ji Temple 定福寺, Kōchi, Shikoku. H = 117.5 cm, W = 59 cm. And Jolly Daikokuten, 1412 CE, Hase Dera 長谷寺, Kamakura. H = 62 cm. See statue placard here. Photo Schumacher.
Slide 3. Table of Contents. This visual classroom guide was inspired by the work of Japanese/English/French scholar Iyanaga Nobumi 彌永信美 (b. 1948). Iyanaga has written extensively in all three languages about the mythology of Buddhist deities. He wrote the “Daikokuten” section in the Hōbōgirin 法寶義林 (1994, pp. 839-920), a major French dictionary of Buddhist terms based on Chinese & Japanese sources. In his magnum opus, Variations on the Theme of Mahākāla 大黒天変相 – 仏教神話学 (2002), Iyanaga compares Japan’s Daikokuten to Santa Claus (p. 509), for both carry a large bag and travel long distances to bring fortune to the people. For a review of Iyanaga’s book, see the JJRS (30/1-2, 2003). See also Iyanaga’s upcoming entry on Mahākāla in the (2018) Brill Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Slides 36 & 38 herein were written by Iyanaga. Special thanks to scholars Iyanaga, Joseph Elacqua, and Richard Kagan for their assistance, suggestions, and encouragement, and to artist Philip Noyed and healer Rachel Stone for their invaluable emotional support. Extra-special thanks to my Japanese wife Keiko. She is not interested in Japan’s old religious traditions, but her unending love & care & acceptance allows me to pursue my independent studies with joy and vigor. Lastly, this condensed visual guide was created, in part, to complement Iyanaga’s “classic” Japanese book on Mahākāla. But its main goals are to highlight – in condensed visual format – the dynamic complexity of Japan’s multicultural religions traditions and to serve as a “jump-start” classroom aid for teachers and students of Japan’s religious artwork.
Slide 4. DAIKOKUTEN IN A NUTSHELL. Many of the gods of Buddhism were originally demonic, multi-armed, multi-headed Hindu deva from the Indic pantheon. Many Hindu deva were introduced to Japan in the early 9th century via the Tantric / Esoteric Buddhist mandala art form (see Slide 15), which Japanese monks brought back from China. For the Japanese, the Hindu deva were considered Buddhist figures from the start. Mahākāla / Daikokuten (M/D) was among the deva introduced to Japan in the 9th century. M/D is a “terrible form / avatar” of Hindu’s supreme lord, the “destroyer” Śiva (Slide 6). M/D was adopted into India’s Buddhist pantheon by at least the 7th century. Curiously, three of the earliest texts to mention M/D give conflicting accounts. The oldest known occurrence of the name Mahākāla appears in the Pali Buddhist Canon (circa 1st-to-3rd century CE), which describes a monk named Mahākāla practicing in a graveyard, where he witnesses a gruesome spectacle of a “swarthy woman” breaking the bones of dead bodies. A later text comes from Indian monk Amoghavajra 不空金剛 (705-774; login = guest). It describes a demonic form called “Great Black God of the Graveyard.” See T.8.246.0840b07. In contrast, Chinese monk Yìjìng 義淨 (635-713; login = guest) describes M/D as a benign human-like deity who holds a gold bag and sits on a chair with one foot hanging down (Slides 19-21). He is installed in India’s monastery kitchens. See T.54.2125.0209 b21. For more on these texts, see Slide 10. The only Japanese text devoted to M/D in the Taishō Buddhist Canon is the 11th-C. Daikoku Tenjin Hō 大黑天神法 [Rituals of the Great Black Heavenly God], which describes M/D as an avatar of Maheśvara (Śiva; Slide 6) who roams the forest at night with a horde of demons that feed on human flesh & blood. Up to this point, artwork of the demonic M/D appears solely in Buddhist paintings & stone carvings from China (Slides 7-9) and in Japan’s Womb World Mandala (Slides 11-13). Interestingly, there are no known extant Japanese icons (statues) of the demonic M/D up to this point in time. (NOTE: In fact, even today, statues of the demonic M/D are very very rare.) Then, sometime in the 11th century, a rupture occurs in M/D’s evolution in Japan. Statues of M/D begin appearing that depict a benign one-headed, two-armed deity, either standing or sitting (Slides 16-21). These statues look amazingly similar to statues of Japan’s indigenous gods (Slide 25), suggesting the Japanese had “tamed” the demonic M/D and considered him a benign Japanese kami (deity). Indeed, by the early 14th C. in Japan, M/D was utterly domesticated. Japanese artwork of M/D from this point onward depicts him as a cheerful & pudgy deity wearing a peasant’s hat (daikoku-zukin 大黒頭巾), standing on bales of rice (tawara 俵), carrying a large sack of treasure slung over his shoulder (chie bukuro 智慧袋), holding a magic “wealth-pounding” mallet (uchide nokozuchi 打ち出の小槌), and adorned with wish-granting jewels (Skt. = cintāmaṇi). See Slides 26-27. This remains his “standard” form even today in modern Japan. In this visual guide, it is referred to as the “Santa Claus” form. Nowhere else is M/D portrayed or worshipped in this manner. Later, around the 16th C. CE, his demonic & benign forms were “reconnected” in a new configuration known as the Three-Faced Daikokuten三面大黒天 (Slide 29), and still later, in the 18th C., M/D was linked to rats & radishes (Slides 38-40), unequivocally associating him with Śiva’s son, the elephant-headed deity Gaṇeśa (Slides 14-15). M/D is also the core member of the Japanese group known as the Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31), a grouping that emerged sometime in the 18th century. M/D’s transformations involve a massive jumble of connections with other deities. As will soon become apparent, M/D is a leading character on a complex mythological stage. He has multiple identities & associations. Defining him in isolation -- as a distinct deity with a distinct identity -- is misleading. Instead, M/D must be understood via his affinities, associations and conflations – via a “mytho-logic” that goes back to ancient India. What then caused his mysterious transformations in Japan? Various theories will be explored herein. Two of the most plausible theories are (1) M/D’s conflation with the pot-bellied Indic wealth god Kubera (Slides 22-24), who also carries a money sack, and (2) Yìjìng’s 7th-C. description of M/D as a kitchen god. In Japan, M/D’s link to the kitchen (food, rice, hence wealth) could have easily morphed into the rice bales he stands upon. The benign M/D is still extremely popular throughout Japan. Small statues of the benign M/D, together with kami Ebisu (Slide 34), are still commonly installed in Japanese kitchens. In China, he was probably more prominent in Tang-through-Song-periods than extant sources indicate – but his cult did not receive significant attention after that in China. M/D’s demonic form is still widely worshipped in Mongolia and Tibet. In India, his elephant-headed doppelgänger Gaṇeśa (Slides 14-15) rose to great modern popularity, whereas M/D did not.
Slide 5. India is home to three major religious philosophies. In the 8th-6th C. BCE came Jainism. In the 6th C. BCE came Buddhism, and in the 3rd C. BCE came Hinduism (not as ancient as imagined). All three draw upon India’s Vedic traditions, stretching back nearly 3,000 years. Despite differences, all share common concepts, e.g., karma, reincarnation, the perpetual cycle of death/rebirth (samsara), which occurs endlessly unless one escapes it. To break the cycle, the Jains embraced harsh austerities/asceticism. Buddhists were less rigorous, instead positing a “middle way” between pure asceticism/indulgence. Senses play a role, but they require constant restraint – achieved via the pivotal Buddhist practice of meditation. Hinduism emerged last. Like Buddhism, it relies on a “multiplicity” of deities to instruct/protect, but it requires “complete surrender” to a personal deity (devotional theism) to escape rebirth. Immaterial of the deity worshipped, the devotee gains salvation. All three philosophies were instrumental in Buddhism’s evolution. To oversimplify: (A) Theravada Buddhism (monastic life) is akin to Jainism; (B) Mahayana Buddhism (salvation for lay people) is the “middle way;” (C) Mantrayāna/Esoteric/Tantric/Vajrayāna Buddhism (secret teachings for only the initiated) enlists the deities of Hinduism. Dozens of Hindu deities were co-opted & appeared thereafter in Buddhist maṇḍalas & texts. It is (C) that largely informs Japanese Buddhism from the 9th C. CE onward. The many Hindu deities assimilated into Buddhism (including Śiva = Mahākāla = Daikokuten) were enrolled as protectors of the Dharma (Buddhist Law), invoked in rites, and depicted in religious art, most notably in Japan’s esoteric Womb World Maṇḍala (over sixty deva, i.e., Hindu gods/goddesses, appear in this Buddhist mandala). See Slide 15. Chinese Daoism (Taoism) was around from the start. It clearly informed beliefs in astral deities & longevity rituals, but it receives only passing comment in this condensed guide. Japanese Shintoism was not even on the map during this period. As a distinct religious doctrine, Shinto can be traced (perhaps) to around the 13th C., but leading modern scholars point to the late 19th century. SOURCES (last access August 2017). (1) By G. Kartapranata. (2) Buddhanet & Onmarkproductions. (3) Washington State Univ. For details on Mantrayāna・Esoteric・Tantric・Vajrayāna Buddhism, see Joseph Elacqua (p. 3, fn. 18) & Megan Bryson (pp. 5-11).
Slide 6. Japan’s Santa-like Daikokuten is a benign and utterly domesticated form of Hindu god Śiva. One of India’s “holy trinity” (creator / preserver / destroyer), Śiva presides over an endless cycle of destruction/rebirth. He is regarded as Hindu’s supreme lord. His many forms are echoed in his 1008 epithets. Identified long ago with RUDRA (2nd-millenium BCE Indic storm, rain, crop god), Śiva acquired his own identity by the 2nd C. BCE. Anthropomorphic images of Śiva first appear in coins of the 1st C. CE. In India, his symbols include an elephant skin, bull, snakes, skulls, & ashes. In Japan, his wrathful Buddhist forms (Mahêśvara, Mahākāla) retain this symbolism. In Japan, Śiva represents the pinnacle of the DEVA class of Hindu gods, who were subdued by the power of Buddhism & converted. Even Śiva needed vanquishing (see 8th C. CE Mahêśvara Subjugation Myth). Śiva’s humiliating conversion likely reflected “real” clashes between India’s Śaivic & Buddhist camps, but in later texts from China & Japan, Śiva’s flip-flop from obstructive Hindu god to benign Buddhist god was portrayed more didactically, suggesting the “non-opposition” of Buddhism with other faiths. In the early 9th C., the deva were introduced to Japan via China as part of the esoteric Buddhist teachings brought back by Japanese monks Saichō 最澄 & Kūkai 空海. For the Japanese, these “Hindu” deva were considered Buddhist figures from the very beginning. SOURCES (last access August 2017). (1) 8 arms/1 head. Early prototype of Mahākāla’s mandala form (see Slide 11). Pix Hōbōgirin, Iyanaga (1994). More pix. (2) 8 arms/1 head. Pix India Heritage. (3) 8 arms/3 heads/bull. Pix Cultural China. (4) 4 arms/3 heads/female (Hāritī?) holding cup. In India, Hāritī/Mahākāla were paired by at least the 7th C. CE & installed in monestary kitchens to ensure ample food (Slide 23). Pix Ancient Khotan, Vol. 2, Stein, 1907. (5) 2 arms/3 heads/bull. Pix Okar. More coins. (6) 4 arms/3 heads (one female) / sits atop two bulls. Early prototype (perhaps) of 3-Faced Daikokuten (Slide 29). Pix British Museum. Also M.A. Stein. (7) 4 arms/3 heads/bull. Pix Pictures from History. (8) 4 arms/1 head. Snake on head suggests his role as Snake (Naga) King. Pix LACMA. (9) 6 arms/3 heads/bull. His sons below -- elephant-headed Gaṇeśa & Skanda (Slide 14). Pix Digital Dunhuang, Cave 285. More here & here. (10) Gōzanze (Vajrapāṇi / Vajrahūṃkara) subduing Daijizaiten (Śiva) & wife Uma. See 8th-C. CE text T.18.882.0372a01. Pix TZ.3.3006.F83 (op. 158). See too Shiva Exhibit (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Ruthless Compassion p. 200, TZ.5.3022.F317 (op. 326) & TZ.5.3022.F319 (op. 328).
Slide 7. Mahākāla in Dunhuang, China. Says Matsushita Emi in her MA paper (Ohio State U, 2001; advisor John Huntington), pp. 25-26; text abridged by Schumacher: “Mahākāla originated in India. His name is mentioned in several texts, including the Pali canon. Another mention of the figure is in the travel account of Chinese monk Yìjìng 義淨 (635–713), who witnessed the worship of Mahākāla in India. Yìjìng’s account [T.54.2125.0209 b21] is important evidence that Mahākāla’s cult existed in India, in the 7th century at the latest. However, there are NO extant examples of Mahākāla images found thus far from that time in India. The earliest images that have been found in India include stone sculpture dated to around the ninth century or slightly later. The Chinese inherited Mahākāla imagery from India through contingent geographical areas. The earliest image of Mahākāla is found in Dunhuang (China), dated to the first half of the 9th century (Fig. 1 above). Also, the Japanese Taizōkai Mandala 胎蔵界 contains the image of Mahākāla that Japanese monk Kūkai 空海 (774 - 835) brought from China to Japan in the early 9th century (Slide 11). Thus, the earliest images of Mahākāla are found in Dunhuang; in old mandalas still preserved in Japan; and in Yunnan (China), in the so-called “Long Scroll of Buddhist Images” from Nanzhao & Dali (Slide 8). SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) International Dunhuang Project (IDP). Also see Stein painting, British Museum. (2) Catalog entitled “DUNHUANG. Centennial Commemoration of the Discovery of the Cave Library,” 2000, Morning Glory Publishers, China. Also see University of Washington (Seattle). For more on the Long Scrolls, see Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia , edited by Charles Orzech and Henrik Sørensen. Also see Megan Bryson’s Mahākāla Worship in the Dali Kingdom (937–1253).
Slide 8. The Dali Long Scroll of Buddhist Images (Dàlǐguó Fànxiàng Juǎn 大理國梵像卷) hails from the Dali Kingdom (937-1253) in Yunnan, China. Over 16-meters long, it depicts many deities, some unique to Dali (e.g., Mahākāla’s seven manifestations). See Bryson’s Mahākāla Worship in the Dali Kingdom. Housed at Taiwan’s Nat’l Palace Museum, the scroll is online at Wiki & here, here, here. The seven Mahākāla are a precedence for Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31) and parallel earlier groups of seven Big Dipper stars, seven mothers (Mahākāla’s attendants; Slide 32), and seven Mt. Hiei shrines (stronghold of Daikokuten worship & Tendai faith in Japan). All share strong links with Mahākāla. The 14th-C. Keiran Shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集 [T.76.2410.0637c02] says Mahākāla is the “global body” of the seven planets, who in turn are the essence of the seven Big Dipper stars. The Big Dipper is also the focus of the Shijōkō-hō 熾盛光法, the key Tendai rite performed for the emperor’s longevity. Mahākāla is arguably the linchpin of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31), a group with two astral gods of immortality. Dali’s God of Longevity (fig. 2 above) thus sparkles with many associative links. SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) 4 arms/1 head/atop cloud/trident & noose in right hands/drum & skull cup (rat?) in left hands/lady attendants. (2) 6 arms/1 head/pedestal depicts seven stars/attended by ladies & yakṣa (demonic nature spirits). Named Dàān Yàochā Shén 大安藥叉神 (Yakṣa of Great Peace). Lee Yü-min (p. 103) says this Mahākāla represents the God of Longevity and is exclusive to Yunnan. (3) 6 arms/3 heads/attended by ladies & demons. Named Jīnbō Jiāluó Shén 金鉢迦羅神 (God of Golden Alms Bowl). Details Matsushita, pp. 32-33. (4) 4 arms/1 head/holds trident encircled by snake & topped by human head. Named Dàshèng Dàhēitiānshén 大聖大黑天神 (Great Holy Mahākāla). Says Faure (p. 365, footnote 93): “[The scroll] shows seven forms of Mahākāla. The main one (fig. 4 above) is paired with nāga [serpent-dragon] deity Fúdé Lóngnǚ 福徳龍女, who is associated with local Dali goddess Baijie & with Hārītī. See Bryson 2010, Ch. 3. Here wrathful Mahākāla is already shown as pot-bellied. The motif is not therefore, as some argue, a result of his transformation into a benign god of fortune.” FN ABOVE: Tr. Bryson (p. 46), Rites of the Great Black God (Dàheītiānshén Dàochángyí 大黑天神道場儀), ca. 12th C. CE.
Slide 9. Other old artwork of Mahākāla (aka Daikokuten) in mainland Asia. SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Cave 26, Turpan, Xinjiang, China. 9th century. Partial sketch of a wall painting, 72 cm, by Albert Grünwedel (1856-1935), as found in Altbuddhistische Kultstätten in Chinesisch-Turkistan (Ancient Buddhist Temples in Chinese Turkistan), Vol. 1, page 281, published 1912. (2) Shízhōng-sì Temple 石钟寺, Shíbǎo Shān 石寶山, Cave 16, Western Yunnan, China. 850 CE. Part of a grouping of deities with Vairocana Buddha (Jp. = Dainichi 大日如来) in the center. Unlike Figure 1 above, Mahākāla icons from Dali (Slide 8) never hold an elephant skin or horizontal spear. Conversely, images of Mahākāla from Dunhuang (Slide 7) show the deity holding both the elephant skin and horizontal spear. (3) Ink on Paper, late 10th to early 11th century. Private Collection. Matsumoto Eiichi 松本栄一 (1900-1984), Tonkō no Kenkyū 敦煌画の研究 (Investigating Dūnhuáng Paintings), Tōhō Bunka Gakuin Tokyo Kenkyūjo, 1937, plate 18. (4) Late first-early-second century CE, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. This early non-tantric form of Śiva portrays him in the likeness of a man. It predates Japan’s benign human-like Daikokuten (Slides 16, 17, 18) by at least seven centuries. Photo from Manifestations of Shiva Exhibit Catalog, Philadelphia Musuem, 1981, p. 11. (5) First or second century CE. State Museum, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Two plump dwarf-like gaṇa (sprites in Śiva's retinue). The gaṇa are commanded by Śiva’s elephant-headed son Gaṇeśa (Slides 14, 15) and appear often in Hindu artwork of Śiva. The gaṇa “might” have served as a prototype for Japan’s plumb and jolly Daikokuten (Slides 19 to 27). Photo from Manifestations of Shiva Exhibit Catalog, Philadelphia Musuem, 1981, p. 12.
Slide 10. The demonic form of Mahākāla/Daikokuten (M/D) entered Japan in the early 9th C. CE via mandala art (Slide 11). Centuries earlier, several texts from India & China described M/D’s ghoulish habits & appetites. The oldest text [perhaps] to mention the name “Mahākāla” is from Pali scripture -- Theragāthākā (Ch. 2, 16) -- committed to writing just before the Common Era. It describes a graveyard scene wherein a “swarthy woman” (named Kāḷi in later commentaries) is breaking the bones of dead bodies. A monk (named Mahākāla) is practicing in the cemetery & witnesses the gruesome spectacle. This suggests India’s Buddhists associated M/D with graveyards from early on. Among the oldest Chinese translations to mention M/D is Amoghavajra’s (705-774) Rénwáng Jīng 仁王經 (Sūtra of Humane Kings). See T.8.246.0840b07, wherein M/D is called the “Great Black God of the Graveyard.” He is to be offered the heads of 1,000 kings. Juxtaposed to this is Yìjìng's (635–713) Record of Buddhist Practices Sent Home from the Southern Sea 南海寄歸内法傳 [T.54.2125.0209b22]. It presents a benign human-like deity who holds a gold bag and sits on a chair with one foot hanging down (Slides 19-21). The 11th-C. CE text Daikoku Tenjin Hō 大黒天神法 (Rituals of the Great Black Heavenly God), T.21.1287, is the sole Japanese text devoted entirely to M/D in the Buddhist Canon (Slide 45). It describes M/D as an avatar of Maheśvara (Śiva) who roams the forest at night with a horde of demons that feed on human flesh & blood. It also says M/D’s other identities include Daijizaiten 大自在天 (aka Śiva; Slide 13) and Kenrō-jiten 堅牢地天 (earth god; Slide 35). See text overview at DDB (login = guest). The 13th-C. Japanese text Asabashō 阿娑縛抄, TZ.9.3190.526 (op. 693), also describes M/D & his forest-roaming demon horde as feeding on human flesh & blood. As god of the dark night, M/D was also sometimes identified with Kālarātri (J. Kokuanten 黒暗天), goddess of midnight & consort of Yama (lord of hell). See Faure, pp. 45, 60, 68, 369. In the Kakuzen-shō 覺禪鈔 (Excerpts of Kakuzen, TZ.4.3002) by Japanese monk Kakuzen 覚禅 (1143–1213), one must offer blood & flesh to M/D. Says Faure pp. 45-46, “[the Kakuzen-shō] quotes a gloss by the Shingon monk Ejū 恵什 – ‘He is Daijizaiten [Maheśvara], who enjoys feeding on blood & flesh.’ This unpalatable habit is turned into a Dharmic quality when we learn that M/D only devours those who have committed sins against the Three Jewels.” See Kakuzen-shō, TZ.5.3022.523 (op. 568). For overview of this text, see DDB (login = guest). Lastly, M/D is portrayed in various texts as the chief god of “demons who steal one’s vital essence” (dasshōki 奪精鬼 or jiki shōki ki 食精氣鬼), notably the flesh-eating female ḍākinīs 荼枳尼 (Slides 32-33). For details, see Keiran Shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集 (Collected Leaves from Hazy Valleys) by Tendai monk Kōshū 光宗 (1276–1350), T.76.2410.0633a07 and T.76.2410.0636a15. This horrific practice “might” be related to a curious Japanese formula for getting rich. Chaudhuri p. 68 relates a story from the Keiran Shūyōshū [T.76.2410.0638a08]: “If a man wants to acquire wealth, he should make a replica of a cintāmaṇi jewel & write the Sanskrit letter ma [for Mahākāla] inside it (see image above). Then he should recite the mantra of M/D a thousand times. Then, it should be thrown (tsubute 飛礫) stealthily inside the house of a wealthy person around midnight [the hour of the rat; see Slides 38-39]. The wealth will come to the person.” A seemingly related practice is fuku nusubi 福ぬすび (stealing fortune) or fuku musubi 福結び (connecting to luck). It involves pilfering small effigies of Daikokuten from shop displays and selling them at the Toshi-no-Ichi (year-end fair) in Asakusa, Tokyo. See Mock Joya, page 162. For more details on above texts, see Iyanaga’s entry on Mahākāla in the (2018) Brill Encyclopedia of Buddhism.
Slide 11. In Japan, Mahākāla’s fierce forms never rose to prominence among the common folk. It was the benign Daikokuten that captured Japan’s religious energy. Even so, Mahākāla’s demonic forms are standard fare in esoteric artwork of the Womb World Mandala (Taizōkai 胎蔵界), including the Genzu 現図, Taizō Zuzō 胎蔵図像, and Taizō Kyūzuyō 胎蔵旧図様 versions. The Genzu entered Japan from China in the early 9th century. The other two, albeit older, arrived a few decades later but did not become widespread. Two different types of Mahākāla appear in these mandalas. In the Genzu, Mahākāla has 3 heads & 6 arms. This portrayal is based largely on the Issaikyō Ongi 一切經音義 (Sound and Meaning of All Sūtras), a Chinese text by central Asia monk Huìlín 慧琳 (737-820), T.54.2128.0366b14. In the Taizō Zuzō & Taizō Kyūzuyō, Mahākāla has 1 head and 2 arms. This form is not described in Chinese texts. All versions portray Mahākāla as fierce. SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) 19th-century image of Mahākāla copied from 9th-century Genzu (see Matsumoto, p. 107, no. 374). Depicted in north court with 3 heads/6 arms. Lower pair grasps sword; middle pair holds human & goat; upper pair an elephant skin. These attributes are described in the 11th-century Daikoku-Tenjin-Hō 大黒天神法, T.21.1287.0355b08. (2) 1194-CE copy of the 9th-century original – the latter was brought from China to Japan by monk Enchin 円珍 (814–891). See Taizō Zuzō TZ.2.2978.F239 (op. 277) & Nara Nat’l Museum (scroll two). (3) Taizō Kyūzuyō, TZ.2.2981.F195 (op. 560). Placed in south court; two similar forms appear in this mandala (see Ishida, p. 156). (4) Besson Zakki 別尊雑記, 12th C. CE. TZ.3.3007.F274 (op. 793) by Shingon monk Shinkaku 心覚 (1116-1180). Also see TZ.3.3008.F102 (op. 931) & TZ.1.2957.F28 (op. 886). (5) Taizō Kyūzuyō, TZ.2.2981.F62 (op. 518). Also see Ishida, p. 156. (6) Daihi Taizō Dai Mandara 大悲胎蔵大曼荼羅, TZ.1.2948.F374 (op. 845). (7) Kakuzenshō 覺禪抄, by Shingon monk Kakuzen 覚禅 (1143-1213), TZ.5.3022.F371 (op. 572).
Slide 12. Four drawings of Mahākāla from Japan’s 12th-13th centuries. Figures 1 & 2 are largely based on the iconography of the Genzu mandala (Slide 11) – e.g., 3 heads, 6 arms, demonic. The Genzu version has dominated Japanese mandala artwork since the early 9th C. The older Taizō Zuzō & Taizō Kyūzuyō versions (Slide 11) – wherein Mahākāla has one head & two arms – were not widely available & thus never gained attention in Japan. This is instructive. According to lauded mandala scholar Ishida Hisatoyo 石田尚豊, in his two-volume Mandara no Kenkyū 曼荼羅の研究 [Investigating the Mandara], the Genzu version is based on the “Later Esotericism” of China, while the Taizō Zuzō & Taizō Kyūzuyō are based on the “Earlier Esoterism” of India & Tibet. Ishida says the earlier traditions have been largely ignored by researchers both inside & outside Japan. In the earlier traditions (before Genzu), Mahākāla does not appear as a standard wrathful “Tantric/Esoteric” deity with wild hair, multiple arms, a trident, etc. Rather, the deity is portrayed as 1-headed-2-armed & with fierce countenance. Says Iyanaga Nobumi (in email exchange with me): “It is true, in one sense, that the earlier traditions were ignored. But one must recall that the manuscripts of these ‘older’ iconographies were never known among Japanese temples & monks. It was only when people like Ōmura Seigai 大村西崖 (1868–1927) and Ono Genmyō 小野玄妙 (1883–1939) searched for materials to be published in the Taishō Zuzō (TZ) canon that they were ‘discovered.’ The TZ (see Slide 45) was published between 1932 and 1934.” SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) Zuzōshō 図像抄 (Iconographic Selections), 12th C., by Japanese monks Yōgon 永厳 (1075-1151) & Ejū 惠什, TZ.3.3006.F142 (op. 240). (2) Shoson Zuzō Shū 諸尊図像集 (Iconography of the Venerables), 13th C., Shōmyōji Temple 称名寺 (Kanazawa Bunko, Yokohama). Also see TZ.12.3224.F86 (op. 950). (3) Ibid. Also see TZ.12.3224.F87 (op. 951). (4) Shishu Goma Honzon Byō Kenzoku Zuzō 四種護摩本尊及眷属図像, early 13th C., TZ.1.2957.F28 (op. 886).
Slide 13. Mahākāla/Daikokuten (M/D) is associated with various other Buddhist forms of Hindu god Śiva, especially Mahêśvara / Īśāna / Īśvara (Sanskrit). Before becoming a Buddhist deity, Śiva was vanquished by the Buddhist camp. After his humiliating conversion, he became Mahêśvara (J=Daijizaiten 大自在天), meaning Great Self Existent God. When grouped with “directional” deities, he is known as Īśāna / Īśvara (old name for Rudra-Śiva; sun god). He lords over the ominous NE corner (the “demon gate”). Known in Japan as Ishanaten 伊舎那天, he is a member of the 8 Guardians of 8 Directions (login = guest), 12 Celestials & 20 Celestials He appears often with a female named Izanagō 伊舍那后, Ishanatenki 伊舍那后妃, or Daijizaitenki 大自在天妃, who are Śiva’s śakti/wives, e.g., Umā 烏摩, Durgā 突迦, Kālī 大黑女, Pārvatī 雪山神女, Bhīmā 毘摩. Learn more about Ishanaten here. Although Daijizaiten / Ishanaten failed to inspire independent cults in China/Japan, they are still found in many religious texts/mandalas. In Japan’s Womb World Mandala (Genzu), M/D or doppelgänger Ishanaten appears in the outer NE corner; Daijizaiten in the outer west court. The deities often come in “mirrored” male-female pairs (e.g., female with bowl in right hand, male with bowl in left). Daijizaiten / Ishanaten appear in less wrathful, more human-like forms, whereas Mahākāla appears in his wrathful esoteric 6-arms-3-heads form, suggesting that the Japanese “blended” the iconography of the “tamer” earlier esotericism of India with the “wrathful” later esotericism of China. Lastly, Daijizaiten is identified with deity Kitano Tenjin 北野天神, as is Shōten (Slide 14-15). The latter is essentially identical with Daikokuten. See Iyanaga (pp. 153-155) and his entry in Hōbōgirin 6 (pp. 713–765). SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Zuzōshō 圖像抄, TZ.3.3006.F103 (op. 187). (2) Besson Zaki 別尊雑記, TZ.3.3007.F281 (op. 804). (3) Kakuzenshō 覺禪抄, TZ.5.F3022.373 (op. 0577). (4) Shika Shōzuzō 四家抄圖像, TZ.3.3009.F180 (op. 1068). Gives two versions of Ishanaten -- Fig. 4 & Fig. 10 above. (5) Zuzōshō 圖像抄, TZ.3.3006.F118 (op. 204). (6) Kakuzenshō 覺禪抄, TZ.5.3022.F376 (op. 0582). (7) ibid; appears with 2 attendants (not shown here), TZ.5.3022.F375 (op. 0584). (8) Taizō Zuzō 胎蔵圖像 (巻下), 1194 CE copy of 9th C. CE original. Sits near Mahākāla. See Nara Nat’l Museum (scroll 2). Also see TZ.2.2978.F236 (op. 276). (9) Hieizan Bon Daihi Taizō Daimaṇḍala 叡山本大慈胎蔵大曼荼羅. Date unclear, TZ.2.2982.F86-87 (op. 601). (10) Shika Shōzuzō, TZ.3.3009.F180 (op. 1068). Fig. 10 is similar to one of Mahākāla found on Slide 11 (Fig. 4). Also appears in TZ.1.2957.F27 (op. 886). (11) Daihi Taizō Daimaṇḍala 大慈胎蔵大曼荼羅, date unclear, TZ.1.2948.F372-373 (op. 844). (12) Shoson Zuzō 諸尊圖像, TZ.3.3008.F101 (op. 930). Also Nat’l Diet Library, p. 48. (13) Shika Shōzuzō, TZ.3.3009.F226 (op. 1098). For more pix, see TZ.2.2982.128 (op. 612) & Nat’l Diet Library, pp. 15, 28, 29.
Slide 14. The elephant-headed Hindu god Gaṇeśa is arguably modern India’s most popular deity, whereas the jolly Santa-like Daikokuten is arguably modern Japan’s most popular god. The two are intimately connected. Gaṇeśa is the “lord of beginnings,” a creator and remover of obstacles; hence invoked at the start of every ritual. The oldest uncontested images of Gaṇeśa date to 5th C. CE India. In variant legends, Gaṇeśa is often said to be one of two sons of Śiva & Pārvatī, the other being Skanda (fig. 5). For Gaṇeśa’s origins, see Notebook. Let us recall that Mahākāla/Daikokuten (M/D) is a form of Śiva. Besides their blood ties, Gaṇeśa & M/D share many overlapping associations. The elephant skin held by the tantric M/D is directly related to Gaṇeśa (see Notebook). The two are paired in the outer NE corner of the Womb World Mandala (fig. 6 & Slide 15). Both are pot-bellied. Both are grouped with the Seven Mothers (Slide 32). Both are gods of “tying the knot” (marriage), fertility and easy childbirth. Both are identified with Kōjin 荒神, Japan's god of the kitchen fire. Gaṇeśa’s emblems include a rat and radish. Starting in Japan’s Edo era (circa 17th C), the “domesticated” M/D was depicted in artwork with rats (Slides 38-39) and radishes (Slide 40). Moreover, Gaṇeśa appears in Japan’s enigmatic “Three Deva” mandala (fig. 7). Why these three? Unclear. But all are linked to M/D -- Gaṇeśa (J = Shōten) is his son; Benzaiten his consort; and Ḍākinīten (flesh-eating female demon) his servant. M/D subdued the ḍākinī demonesses as an avatar of Dainichi Buddha (see story at T.39.1796.0687b27). Gaṇeśa comes in many forms, including the important “embracing” form – two elephant-headed deities hugging each other (fig. 2). For details on this form, see Notebook. Gaṇeśa never became as popular in Japan as he did in India. M/D never became as popular in India as he did in Japan. SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) Zuzōshō 圖像抄, TZ.3.3006.F99 (op.180). (2) Kakuzen-shō 覺禪鈔, TZ.4&5.3022.F336 (op. 482). (3) Daihi Taizō Daimandara 大悲胎蔵大曼荼羅, TZ.1.2948.F375 (op. 845). (4) Kakuzen-shō 覺禪鈔, TZ.4&5.3022.F341 (op. 488). (5) Modern Reproduction, Digital Dunhuang, Cave 285, China. (6) 1194-CE copy of 9th-C. original. See Nara Nat’l Museum (Scroll 2) and Taizō Zuzō 胎蔵図像, TZ.2.2978.F239 & F240 (op. 277). (7) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. See DDB (login = guest) for more on Gaṇeśa, or Skanda, or Gaṇeśa’s Dual Form. For more images, see TZ.1.2977.F20 (op. 882); TZ.12.3224.F79 (op. 942), F80 & F81 (op. 943), F82 (op. 944), F83 (op. 945). Also see A-to-Z Dict. & Iyanaga p. 456 & p. 503.
Slide 15. In the Taizōkai (Womb World) Mandala 胎蔵界 (Slide 11), some 414 deities are arranged into deity families & grouped in 12 courts. Over 60 Hindu devas appear in this Buddhist mandala. It must be stressed that the devas, in Japan, were considered Buddhist figures from the very start. Mahākāla & Gaṇeśa are “paired” together in the outer northeast (NE) corner. NE is particularly inauspicious in Chinese geomancy and is called the "demon gate" (J = kimon 鬼門) -- place where demons gather & enter. The placement of Mahākāla & Gaṇeśa in the NE means the two are "demon quellers par excellence." Dating the above images is problematic. Each appears in the TZ database (Slide 45), but the TZ is not organized chronologically. One must search for colophons to accurately date the works. Sadly, none of the above images include colophons. In all above images, Gaṇeśa holds a radish (Slide 40). SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) TZ.12.3217. (2) TZ.1.2952. (3) TZ.1.2950. (4) TZ.1.2949. (5) TZ.1.2950. Says Faure: “We recall that the seven or eight Mothers (Slide 32) form Mahākāla’s retinue in the Mahāvairocana-sūtra [T.18.848]. At Ellora & Aurangabad (India), it is Vināyaka (Gaṇeśa) who has taken over the role of Mahākāla (Śiva) himself [p. 83]. He is occasionally described as a member of Maheśvara’s retinue, or even as Maheśvara (Śiva) himself. Vināyaka shares a number of features with Mahākāla: both are closely related to Śiva, and both grant similar wishes to the practitioner—in particular, wishes of a sexual or monetary nature (we recall that Daikokuten became a god of wealth in Japan). They also share symbolic attributes such as the radish (Slide 40), although in Gaṇeśa’s case this radish is sometimes replaced by a broken tusk, which seems to be its prototype [p. 87]. This demon, once tamed by Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva (J = Kannon), with whom he then formed a dyad known as Kangiten (Bliss Deva), was eventually promoted to the status of a demiurge. Yet Shōten’s demonic nature was never entirely erased, and his ambiguity is reflected in the fact that, even today, his cult is surrounded by a deep cloud of secrecy [p. 14].” In old Japan, performing Gaṇeśa (J = Shōten) rites privately (without a priest) was considered dangerous. Even today, in Japan, most Gaṇeśa images are hidden (not available for public viewing).
Slide 16. Standing Human-Like Benign Form. By the late 9th C., Japan’s temple-shrine authorities had commissioned statues of kami (native gods), notably kami Hachiman. However, most kami statues from Japan’s classical period (710-1185) were rarely named. Today, most are identified with monikers such as male deity 男神像 or female deity 女神像 or gongen 権現 (“avatar” of Buddhist deity). These old kami statues are human-like & often wear aristocratic garb, as is the 11th C. statue of Mahākāla / Daikokuten (M/D) shown above, which is a rare example of a Buddhist “deva” of Hindu origin shown in Japanese garb. Why? We do not know. Juxtapose this to kami Hachiman, who is often depicted dressed in the robe of a Buddhist monk. Theoretically, by portraying the kami in human form, the Japanese “may have” echoed Chinese rhetoric on the Buddhist “taming” of local deities (see Breen-Teeuwen, pp. 77-79). It is conceivable that M/D’s transformation from “terrible to benign” was subject to this same “taming” impulse. Like Japan’s homespun kami, some “imported” Hindu devas (including M/D) were seen as dangerous & in further need of conversion to Buddha’s teachings. “Both the court & local elites cherished Buddhism for its ability to control the violence of deities, spirits, & demons of all kinds, including the kami” (ibid, pp. 38-89). One must note that, in Japan, the devas were considered Buddhist figures from the very start (albeit dangerous ones). The conversion process often resulted in new identities & linkages. One notable case involves the dangerous kami of Miwa, the supreme god (perhaps) of the early Yamato (Japan) dynasty, one later transferred to Mt. Hiei. By the late 9th C., this kami had been “tamed,” renamed Ōmiya Gongen 大宮権現, & represented in statues at Mt. Hiei in human form wearing Chinese aristocratic attire (ibid, p. 79), which suggests he was identified with the protector god of China’s Mt. Tiāntái (C. Shān Wáng 山王, J. Sannō). Mt. Hiei was also home to M/D. Both M/D & the Miwa kami served as protective gods of the mountain’s temple-shrine multiplex. Both were conflated by at least the early 14th C. (i.e., Daikokuten = Miwa kami). See Slide35. The assimilation of local deities into Buddhism (in Japan known as Shinbutsu Shūgo 神仏習合) is a common pan-Asian phenomenon. It is not unique to Japan. One could argue that the transcribed name (Mahākāla) refers more generally to the Hindu god’s wrathful multi-headed/armed Buddhist form, while the translated name (Daikokuten) refers more generally to the god’s tamed/benign human Japanese form. This is made clear in the last pages of the 12th-C. Shoson Zuzō 諸尊図像 (Iconography of the Venerables), by Shingon monk Shinkaku 心覚 (1117-1180). See online TZ.3.3008, op. 859-932. The last three images therein show M/D in three different forms: (1) Mahākāla op. 930 (3 heads, 6 arms); (2) Mahākāla op. 931 (1 head, 6 arms); (3) Daikokuten op. 932 (1 head, 2 arms, human). The oldest J-text to mention the standing human form is the 10th C. Shingon work Yōson Dōjō-Kan 要尊道場観 [T.78.2468.63b11] by Shun-nyū 淳祐 (890–953). The 11th C. Daikoku-tenjin-hō 大黒天神法 [T.21.1287.355b] -- the only J-text devoted to Mahākāla in the Taishō canon -- (Slide 45), reproduces the same iconography as the earlier Yōson Dōjō-Kan. It presents Daikoku as a Japanese god of wealth & the kitchen, human in appearance, black in color, wearing an eboshi 烏帽子 (formal cap of court nobles), hakama 袴 (divided skirt), and kariginu 狩衣 (informal outerwear of a noble), with right fist at his side (fist mudra, ken-in 拳印) & left clutching a large bag (ōbukuro 大袋) slung over his shoulder. The bag’s color is that of rat’s hair. See Slides 38-39.
Slide 17. Oldest extant Japanese statues of standing human-like form. All have clenched fist on right hip. All hold a treasure sack containing inexhaustible wealth (e.g., money, food, wisdom). Iyanaga Nobumi 彌永信美 says: "The standing form with sack is generally of Shingon temples, the seated form generally of Tendai derivation." As for figure #2 above, Iyanaga doubts the identification of Daikokuten with Ōkuninushi (Slide 35) at this early date. He gives two reasons: “Ōkuninushi is one of the main characters in the Kojiki 古事記 (Record of Ancient Matters; 712 CE). But the Kojiki was not well known in medieval times. It was, in fact, largely ignored. Also, old kami statues were rarely named, except Hachiman.” See Slide 25. The Kojiki, incidentally, lingered in obscurity until the late 17th C. CE, when it was resurrected & “canonized” by the emerging Shinto discourse, in which Ōkuninushi (Slide 35) was elevated to supreme Shinto god. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Dazaifu City. Scholar Yamashita Ritsu 山下立 thinks the statue dates to the last half of the 10th C. CE or early 11th C. [See March 1991, "Special Exhibit: Daikokuten & Benzaiten" 特別陳列・大黒天と弁才天, Biwako Bunkakan Museum 滋賀県立琵琶湖文化館 (Shiga). In contrast, the Kyushu Nat’l Museum dates it to the late 12th C., while deceased scholars Kita Sadakichi 喜田貞吉 (1871-1939) & Nakagawa Zenkyō 中川善教 (1907-1990) dated it to the 9th C. This latter date seems unlikely, as the earliest Japanese text to mention the standing form is the 10th-C. Yōson Dōjō-Kan 要尊道場観 [T.2468.78] by Shun-nyū 淳祐 (890–953). See Iyanaga, pp. 346-347, for above citations. (2) Nara Pref. Museum of Art Exhibit 大古事記展, Oct. 18-Dec. 14, 2014 & ぶっちゃけ古事記. (3) Kōfukji Temple 興福寺. (4) Matsuo Dera 松尾寺. (5) Hiezan Enryakuji Temple 比叡山延暦寺 & Biwako Visitors Info Desk. (6) Kanazawa Bunko 金沢文庫, Exhibit Catalog (Dec. 9 - Feb. 5, 2012), “Messages Within: The World of Icons Hidden Inside Buddhist Statues” 仏像からのメッセジ－像内納入品の世界, pp. 15-17. A Kakebotoke 懸仏 (aka Zōnai Nōnyūhin 像内納入品) of Benzaiten playing a biwa was found inside the statue. Carved by Zenshun 善春 (active 13th C.) at the behest of monk Eison 叡尊 (1201-90) after the latter had a vision of Mahākāla. (7) Tōji Temple Special Exhibit, 2011 (March 20 to May 25), 東寺の五大尊像. (8) Tokyo Nat’l Museum, Exhibit Catalog, “Ise Jingu & Treasures of Shinto.” July 2009, p. 144.
Slide 18. All wear Japanese garb & carry a treasure sack. All appear to be stepping forward, imbuing them with religious energy. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Besson Zakki 別尊雑記 (Miscellaneous Notes on Individual Deities), by Shingon monk Shinkaku 心覚 (1117-1180), TZ.3.3007.F275 (op. 794). Image appears as well in Shoson Zuzō 諸尊圖像 (Iconography of the Venerables), likewise by Shinkaku, TZ.3.3008.F103 (op. 932). (2) Kakuzen-shō 覺禪鈔 (Excerpts of Kakuzen), by Shingon monk Kakuzen 覚禅 (1143–1213). TZ.5.3022.F370 (op. 571). One of the most comprehensive texts on the iconography & rituals of the Shingon school. Learn more at DDB (login = guest). (3) Hashiri (Running) Daikokuten 走り大黒天, Unryū-in 雲龍院, Kyoto. Named thus because Daikokuten is always on the move, dispensing benefits to all. Other similar names are Aruki (Walking) Daikokuten 歩き大黒天 & Tabisugata (Traveling) Daikokuten 旅姿大黒天. (4) Tōdai-ji Temple 東大寺, Nara. Located in the Hokke-dō Chōzuya 法華堂手水屋. Wood, hinoki 桧 (cypress), yoseki zukuri 寄木造 (joined-block technique), H = 139.4 cm, 14th C. Image from 1980 exhibit catalog entitled “Tōdai-ji Exhibition” 東大寺展, p. 91. Happy (not fierce) face, wearing tanko 短袴 (short divided skirt). (5) Enryaku-ji Temple 比叡山延暦寺, Shiga. Wood, H = 83. 3 cm, 15th C. Image from Biwako Visitors web site. This 15th-C. statue still employs the iconography of the 11th C. (e.g., standing, not yet fat, human-like, money sack in left hand, clenched fist on right hip – see Slide 17). By the Muromachi era, older Heian-era iconography was superseded by the jovial, pudgy, Santa-like Daikokuten standing atop rice bales, holding a magic mallet & treasure sack. See Slides 26-27 for latter type, which emerged as Daikokuten’s “standard” portrayal in the early 14th C. & today remains modern Japan’s most popular form of the deity.
Slide 19. Sitting Human-Like Benign Form. The earliest reference to a sitting Mahākāla / Daikokuten (M/D), with one leg hanging down to the ground and holding a treasure sack, comes from Chinese monk Yìjìng 義淨 (635–713). His Record of Buddhist Practices Sent Home from the Southern Sea 南海寄歸内法傳 [T.54.2125.0209b21] says M/D is a Buddhist god of the kitchen in India and is installed (alongside female Hāritī; see Slides 23-24) in monastery kitchens or gateways. Curiously, the seated form holding a small purse does not appear in Japanese texts until the 13th-C. Asabashō 阿娑縛抄, TZ.9.3190.524 (op. 691). In most Japanese legends, M/D’s introduction to Japan is credited to Japanese monk Saichō 最澄 (767-822), founder of Japan's Tendai school at Mt. Hiei (near Kyoto). When Saichō prayed for a powerful deity willing to provide nourishment for the monks at the new monastic community on Mt. Hiei, Daikokuten appeared to him in the form of an old man and said he would provide sustenance for three thousand monks per day. See early 14th-C. Keiran Shūyōshū T.76.2410.0634b02 thru b29 for this legend. Another early 14th-C. text, Miwa Daimyōjin Engi 三輪大明神緣起 (Origins of the Great Bright Miwa Deity), explains that is was the Miwa Deity -- in the form of Daikoku Tenjin 大黒天神 -- who appeared to Saichō. See pp. 29-30 of online ENGI [pp. 19-20 in manuscript]. See Slide 35 & 36 for legends equating the Miwa Deity with Daikokuten. In later, more developed and embellished versions of these legends, Daikokuten appears to Saichō as a three-faced deity with only one body. Such legends appear in the 16th-C. Kyōgen play Ebisu Daikoku (see Yijiang Zhong, pp. 37-38), in the 16th-C. text Jingi Shūi 神祇拾遺 (ca. 1525) by Yoshida Kanemitsu 吉田兼満, and in the 1685 Sōgi Shokoku Monogatari 宗祇諸国物語. A much later text, the 18th-C. Ōmiyochishiryaku 近江輿地志略), says Saichō envisioned a community of three thousand monks and asked Daikokuten if he would sustain 1,000 people per day. Daikokuten then appeared with three faces and six arms [meaning he would provide nourishment for 3,000 people]. Also see Iyanaga’s Daikoku-ten 大黒天 in the Hōbōgirin 法寶義林 (1994, pp. 902b-904a). If there is any substance to these stories, it means Daikokuten became the tutelary deity of Mt. Hiei in the medieval period (certainly after Saichō’s time). These later legends played a major role in the 16th-C. development of popular artwork of the Three-Faced Daikokuten 三面大黒 (Slide 29). There are, however, many conflicting legends about Saichō’s Daikokuten. Most say Saichō carved an icon of the deity and installed it in the monastery’s kitchen, but nothing can be said conclusively about its appearance, as “it is lost and no authentic written description exists.” [see Chaudhuri, 2003, p. 69].
Slide 20. Oldest Japanese statues of seated form, generally associated with the Tendai school. Details on this form are found in the Record of Buddhist Practices Sent Home from the Southern Sea 南海寄歸内法傳 [T2.54.125.0209b23-24] by Chinese monk Yìjìng 義淨 (635–713). Yìjìng says Mahākāla (Daikokuten) protects temples & nourishes monks. Wooden icons of the god are installed in monastery kitchens or before the porch. The icon holds a gold bag & sits on a small chair, with one foot hanging down. Its face is blackened because it is always being wiped with oil. Hence, the deity is named Mahākāla (Skt. = Great Black God). Yìjìng transliterates the name as 莫訶哥羅, an unusual spelling that doesn’t appear elsewhere in the Buddhist canon. He translates the name as 大黒神 (J = Daikokushin, meaning Great Black God). SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Kongōrin-ji 金剛輪寺 & Biwako Visitors Desk. (2) Kiyomizu Dera 清水寺 & Ameblo. (3) Kanazawa Bunko 金沢文庫 Exhibit Catalog (Dec. 9 - Feb. 5, 2012) Messages Within: The World of Icons Hidden Inside Buddhist Statues. 仏像からのメッセジ－像内納入品の世界. (4) Fukuchizan Shūzen-ji Temple 福地山修禅寺, Shizuoka. Among locals, this statue is known as Fūjin Sonten 風神尊天 (Lord of Wind) or Kaze no Saburō 風の三郎. In autumn, people pray to him to protect the rice crop against typhoons. In winter, people pray to him to ward off the common cold. In this capacity, he is called Kaze no Kami 風邪の神 (God of Colds). Fried rice cakes are made in his honor. Eating them is said to stave off illness. Writes Iyanaga (in email Nov. 2016): “This statue is interesting. Since the temple was originally a Shingon temple, one would expect the standing form, not the seated form. This association of the wind deity with Daikokuten is unusual/unique. It perhaps comes from the big bag held by the traditional Wind Deity.” SPECULATON. Japan's chubby armor-wearing, club-holding Daikokuten (see above & Slide 21) may be a “combined” form of a much older Buddhist pairing of brothers Skanda (warrior) & Gaṇeśa (glutton), both sons of Śiva (Slide 6). This duo is a variation on old Indic prototypes of "paired" gate keepers (Slide 24), representing polarities such as purity / gluttony & abstinence / abundance.
Slide 21. All hold treasure bag. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Kakuzen-shō 覺禪鈔 (Excerpts of Kakuzen), 12th C. CE, TZ.5.3022.F369 (op.570). (2) Nara City. For more on sculptor Senzan 沙弥仙算, see Kanazawa Bunkaken. (3) Onjōji Temple 園城寺, Shiga, Edo era. This relatively late statue still employs the iconography of the 11th C. CE (Slide 20), albeit the money bag & club have switched positions. Photo Faure, p. 48. (4) Kannon-ji Temple 観音寺, Kusatsu City 草津市, Shiga. Muromachi Era. Photo from exhibit at Azuchi Castle Archaeological Museum 滋賀県立安土城考古博物館 (Shiga) entitled Representations of Kami and Buddha 表現された神と仏, from Feb. 27 to April 10, 2016. See list of items exhibited. (5) Ichigami Shrine 市神神社, Higashiōmi City 東近江市, Shiga. Kamakura Era. Photo from exhibit at INAX Gallery (Osaka) entitled Ebisu and Daikoku: Lucky Gods with Cheerful Smiles ゑびす大黒展 - 笑顔の神さま, from Sept. 5 to Nov. 19, 2009. Order exhibit catalog here. By the early 14th C. CE, Daikokuten’s club (figs. 3 & 4 above) was replaced with a magic “wealth-pounding” mallet (Slides 26 & 27). In the text Shoson Kikigaki 諸尊聞書 by monk Yūkai 宥快 (1345-1416; login = guest), the deity is described as follows: left hand holds mallet, right hand holds treasure bag, wears armor, black in complexion, sitting on rock, left leg hangs down, right leg spread in front [as quoted in Chaudhuri, p. 69].
Slide 22. Japan alone transformed the demonic Mahākāla into the jovial, lovable Daikokuten. Why? The prevailing theory claims Mahākāla (Daikokuten) was conflated with Kubera 倶吠羅, the plump Hindu god of wealth & lord of the north. Both are dwarf-like, chubby, & carry a money bag. Kubera also merged with Buddhist wealth gods Pāñcika 半只迦, Jambhāla 苫婆羅, & Vaiśravaṇa (Jp. = Bishamonten). The prevailing theory is widely accepted but not watertight. There are three leaks: (1) Yìjìng’s 7th-C text [T.54.2125.0209b23-24] says India’s dwarf kitchen deity is Mahākāla. Yìjìng transliterates the name as 莫訶哥羅, an unusual spelling that doesn’t appear elsewhere in the Buddhist canon. Moreover, the demonic Mahākāla 摩訶迦羅 is unknown at this time. (2) Since the icon is blackened by always being wiped with oil, Yìjìng translates the name as 大黑神 (Great Black God) -- a moniker “predating” the demonic Mahākāla who emerges in the next century. (3) Yìjìng says the deity belongs to the retinue of the “Great God 大天” (Śiva / Mahêśvara). This may refer to Kubera, who is part of Śiva’s retinue. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) NY MET. (2) British Museum. Pāñcika (Kubera’s general) is conflated with Jambhāla in the late 7th C. (see Unfolding A Mandala, pp. 104-108). Kubera/Pāñcika/Jambhāla’s emblems include a money bag or mongoose spewing treasure. (3) Victoria & Albert. (4) Holds mongoose spewing jewels. Asian Art Museum. (5) Nat’l Museum New Dehli. In a 2015 PMJS post, Joseph Elacqua & Iyanaga Nobumi wrote: JE: Sounds like Yìjìng's "Mahākāla" is in reality a form of Kubera.” IN: That was Alfred Foucher’s theory. JE: Yet none of that relates to Mahākāla (i.e., Śiva) as we know him in India. Was Yìjìng mistaken in identifying this deity? IN: I don't think so. In India/Nepal, temple gates are guarded by dwarfish deities called "Mahākāla." Also, Kubera is closely associated with Śiva, so in a Buddhist context, Mahākāla has two forms, one linked to Kubera (fat, money bag) & the other (likely later) to a Śaiva wrathful deity. The two were not fully separated.
Slide 23. Indic folk deity Kubera is a “pivot” for a posse of related deities. Kubera’s Buddhist doppelgängers in Japan are Vaiśravaṇa (J = Bishamonten) & Daikokuten (tamed form, not wild form). Kubera is most often identified with Buddhist Vaiśravaṇa. All three are associated with the north and the treasures of the earth. Daikokuten is the guardian par excellence, standing sentry over the perilous northeast demon gate (kimon 鬼門). All three have Indic origins. Kubera fused early on with Vaiśravaṇa & with Pāñcika – the latter is Kubera’s general & the husband of child-eating ogress Hāritī (J. Kariteimo 訶梨帝母 or Kishimojin 鬼子母神). Kubera/Pāñcika appear often in early Buddhist art, holding either a money bag or mongoose spewing jewels (i.e., wealth). The mongoose, not found in Japan, was replaced there by a rat (emblem of both Bishamonten & Daikokuten; see Slides 38 & 39). The rat corresponds to north and to midnight (i.e. black) in the Asian zodiac. Kubera/Pāñcika are often paired with Hāritī, the “ogress-cum-goddess” of fertility, mothers, & children – i.e., wealth. Hāritī was among the most popular deities of early Buddhism. Artwork of her and consort Pāñcika is abundant. By the 7th C. CE, Hāritī is also paired with Jambhala (Pāñcika’s double) and also with Mahākāla (Daikokuten). The latter pair was installed in India’s monastery kitchens to ensure ample food. Why is Hāritī a Kitchen God? Details Here. The kitchen Mahākāla’s money bag is an emblem of Kubera, so Mahākāla may have originated as Kubera. Says Meher McArthur, p. 63: “Images of Mahākāla closely resemble Kubera and may be one and the same deity.” SOURCES (last access August 2017): (1) Holds bag & bowl. Female (Hāritī?) pours from pitcher. Pix Wiki. (2) Appears with Central-Asian features. Pix Nat’l Museum New Dehli. (3) Holds bag. Pix Wiki. (4) Holds bowl. Pix Bharat. (5) Holds bag. Pix Flicker. (6) Leans on coiled object, holds citron. This icon may be the first step in the transition from Pāñcika to Jambhala. Pix Unfolding a Mandala, p. 221. (7) Holds bag, sits atop elephant (suggesting Mahākāla). Pix Indian Antiques. (8) Pix Bharat. (9) Pix Bharat. (10) Pix Pictures from History. (11) Pix Peshawar Museum. RESOURCES: Vogel 1910, Getty 1914, Bhattacharyya 1958, Shodhganga, Praying for Heirs, 2011, Kariteimo TZ.5.3022.351 (op. 510).
Slide 24. Two fat dwarfish nature spirits (Yakṣa 夜叉) are often depicted at the entrance or on walls, panels, & pillars of Hindu grottoes (figs. 1, 2). These protectors represent a longstanding artistic motif at Hindu sites in India, SE/Central Asia. They symbolize abundance, wealth, & fecundity. Kubera is Lord of the Yakṣa. Buddhists adopted the same “pairing” motif. Over time, the “pair” underwent countless reconfigurations, e.g., two male or femake Yakṣa; or two Yakṣa warriors named Vajrapāṇi 金剛力士 (fig. 7); or a warrior-glutton pair (fig. 10) symbolizing purity / craving; or a husband/wife (figs. 3, 4, 5, 6, 9) or father/son (fig. 8). Śiva’s Buddhist forms appeared in such pairs, e.g., Mahêśvara & wife Pārvatī, or Mahākāla & wife Hāritī. This latter pair appeared in the 7th C. CE. It was installed in India’s monastery kitchens to ensure the food supply. But it never gained ground in China / Japan. China turned to at least three variants -- Idaten/Hotei fig. 10 (warrior/glutton); Ha 哈/Heng 哼 (blower/snorter); and Lìshì 力士/Jīngāng 金剛, i.e. Vajrapāṇi). Japan opted for the dual form (open/shut mouth) of Vajrapāṇi (J = Niō), the Buddhist bully who subjugated Śiva (Slide 6). Japan’s Shinto camp also used “pairing,” but opted instead for pairs of magical animals (lions, foxes, and monkeys). Daikokuten retained his kitchen role in Japan throughout. But the link to Hāritī was scrapped. By the 16th century, Daikokuten was paired with Japanese kami (deity) Ebisu (Slide 34). The two thereafter soared to fame as wealth gods (Daikokuten = big harvests; Ebisu = plentiful fishing); both were installed in the kitchens of the commoner & became members of Japan’s 7 Lucky Gods (Slide 31). Daikokuten and Ebisu were conflated in the mid-17th C. with the kami Ōkuninushi 大国主神 & his son Kotoshironushi (see Slides 35-36). SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Pix Cave Temples Ellora, fig. 90. (2) 2nd C. BCE, Sanchi, Bhopal, India. Pix India Monuments. (3) Pix LACMA, p. 187. (4) Pāñcika holds purse, Hāritī a cornucopia. Pix Ashmolean. (5) Pix M. Gunther. (6) Pix Heritage Tourism. (7) Called Niō 仁王 in Japan. Pix A2Z Dict. (8) Pix Butsuzou. (9) Pix Praying for Heirs, 2009, p. 184. (10) Warrior Wéituó 韋駄 (S. Skanda; J. Idaten) & Glutton Bùdài 布袋 (J. Hotei). Wéituó looks in, Bùdài out. Pix A2Z Dict. (11) Modern Replica. Skanda & Gaṇeśa (sons of Śiva). Pix Getty.
Slide 25. The human-like Daikokuten resembles a native Japanese kami 神 (deity). Over the centuries, he has shed his “terrible” Hindu & Buddhist origins – today, all that remains is his treasure sack & pudgy stomach, both “apparently” derived from his connection to Kubera, the Hindu god of riches & the kitchen (Slides 22, 23, 24). Also, over the centuries, his attire changed from the garb of an aristocrat or the armour of a warrior to the garb of a hunter or peasant, thereby making Daikokuten more accessible to the common folk. In this sense, one can say Daikokuten "is" a kami in Japan’s modern Shinto pantheon. By at least the 16th C. CE, Daikokuten was paired with kami Ebisu (Slide 34). Even today, statues of the duo are commonly installed in the homes of farmers & merchants (especially in the kitchen), with Daikokuten representing agriculture & bountiful harvests, and Ebisu representing the ocean & bountiful fishing. Both are heralded by merchants as gods of commerce. Also, around the mid 17th C., Daikokuten was purposefully conflated with kami Ōkuninushi (Great Land Master; see Slide 35) by the monks of Izumo Shrine in their quest to popularize the god, raise funds, & ensure Izumo Shrine’s future. By the late Edo era, Ōkuninushi / Daikokuten’s powers & popularity began to rival even those of Shinto’s supreme sun goddess, Amaterasu (see Slide 35). Some academics will undoubtedly object to the word Shinto. The prevailing paradigm among scholars of Japan’s religious traditions is (1) Shinto is a modern invention; (2) Shinto is not the indigenous religion of Japan and did not develop in a continuous unbroken line from prehistoric times down to the present; and (3) Before modern times, Shinto did not exist as an independent religion, had no distinct doctrines or patriarchs, and was a “fuzzy” component (extension) of Buddhism. Most modern scholars avoid the term “Shinto” like the plague. Above, I use the term to refer to Japan’s kami shrines, myths, & rituals, which were clearly around long before the “invention” of modern State Shinto. For more on this paradigm shift, see Kuroda Toshio (1981), Breen-Teeuwen, pp. 19-23, Teeuwen-Scheid, Hardacre, Rambelli-Teeuwen, Como-Faure-Iyanaga, and Ross Bender, here, here, here, here. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): For details on Ōkuninushi-Daikokuten-Ebisu, see Yijiang Zhong, 2012, pp. 29-39. For more on Daishōgun 大将軍, see Lucia Dolce's The Worship of Celestial Bodies in Japan (2006). For exchange between scholars Iyanaga & Scheid about Daikokuten’s kami form, click here. For iconography, see Q & A at PMJS.
Slide 26. Appearance of Standard “Santa Claus” Form. Benign・Pudgy・Jovial・Magic Mallet・Rice Bales・Treasure Sack・Wish-Granting Jewel. Writes scholar Bernhard Scheid in a 2015 PMJS posting [brackets contain text inserted by Schumacher]: “As regards the modern iconography of Daikokuten (our ‘standard’ form, so to speak), I am not sure whether the Indian connection is not overstressed. Looking at the earliest Heian-era iconographic examples at Kongōrin-ji Temple [Slide 20] and Kanzeon-ji Temple [Slide 17], there are no traces of the tantric Mahākāla iconography [Slide 11], and even if Kongōrin-ji’s Daikoku has attributes of a Pure Land figure (rock, hankazō) and a protector (armour, staff → mallet), both figures have the air of a native Japanese peasant. I could very well imagine that this is actually a native kami [Japanese deity] from a Tendai or Shingon Buddhist perception, probably the Miwa deity [Miwa Daimyōjin 三輪大明神, aka Ōmononushi 大物主命, aka Ōkuninushi 大国主命, at sacred Mt. Miwa], where Ōkuninushi and Ōmononushi intersect [Slide 35]. In this regard, I tend to believe the legend that connects Saichō’s Daikokuten with Miwa [Daimyōjin]. While both statues mentioned above have stern expressions, this is completely in line with other early kami figures. And already in the [late] Kamakura period we encounter the jolly Daikokuten [Slide 27], again a native peasant. Mahākāla’s tantric iconography is added only later and modifies this figure [see Three-Faced Daikokuten Slide 29], but these traits are mostly lost in the classic fukujin [福神, fortune god, Santa Claus, Slide 27] representation of ‘our’ Daikokuten. Thus, I would say that the fukujin Daikokuten has its name in common with Mahākāla but only a few details of its appearance. The identification ‘Daikoku = Mahākāla (an Indian krodha deity)’ must be put into perspective, therefore, when we speak about the fukujin as opposed to the rare full-scale mikkyō [密教 or tantric/esoteric] icons of Mahākāla/Makakara. Rather, the native figure (indeed Ōkuninushi who, like Daikokuten, is also venerated at the Hie Sannō Shrine) is probably the ancestor of the fukujin and must not be treated as a later interpretation. Or is this too much Shintoized? As regards the original question about rice bales, we should not forget that rice was money. Daikokuten is standing or sitting on money, money that can be eaten.” For Iyanaga’s response, click here.
Slide 27. Oldest statues of Daikokuten holding magic mallet & treasure sack, standing/sitting on rice bales. Who first conceived him like this is unknown. By at least the early 14th C. CE, Daikokuten was fused with kami Miwa Daimyōjin 三輪大明神, aka Ōmononushi 大物主命, aka Ōkuninushi 大国主命 (Slide 35). The Miwa kami was perhaps the supreme kami of the early Yamato (Japan) dynasty, but it was also a violent deity who commanded water & thunder (hence agriculture). The court struggled to control it. The Miwa kami and Daikokuten are both agricultural deities. This was a likely factor in their linkage. Another reason is wordplay. Daikokuten's name is written 大黒天. Ōkuninushi's name is written 大国主. Both 大黒 & 大国 can be pronounced DAIKOKU. The earliest text to mention the matter is the Chiribukuro, p. 30 塵袋 (ca. 1264-1288). Details here. The addition of rice bales suggests more wordplay, one involving the term koku 石. In bygone days, rice was a de facto currency for paying debts & taxes. Rice was measured in units called “koku” (180 liters). Koku can thus mean black 黒, or country 国, or rice/grain 石. The phonological resemblance of the names 大黒・大国, however, was not explicitly explained in the oldest Japanese text to conflate Daikokuten with Ōkuninushi (the early 14th C. Miwa Daimyōjin Engi 三輪大明神緣起. Iyanaga (pp. 562–63) says the phonological link was likely created after the Engi’s compilation. Yijiang Zhong (2012), p. 33 says "this conflation strategy" was first aggressively pursued in a preaching tract used by Izumo priests on their fund-raising tours in the 1720s-1730s. The magic mallet’s origin is unclear. Older statues show the deity with clenched right fist (fist mudra or ken-in 拳印). Faure (p. 54) suggests the mallet comes from Daikokuten’s association with the Seven Mothers (Slide 32), who hold mallets in the Madarijin 摩怛哩神 ritual. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) God of Wealth in Western Garb, by D. Failla. Monumenta Nipponica, V. 61, No. 2, Summer, 2006, pp. 193-218. (2) Kiyomizu Dera 清水寺. (3) Blog #1 and Blog #2. (4) Hase Dera, Kamakura. Photo Schumacher. See temple placard. (5) Kongōrin-ji 金剛輪寺. Other notable statues at Shōjuraigō-ji 聖衆来迎寺 (1339 Shiga) & Kojima Dera 子島寺 (1609 Nara).
Slide 28. Daikokuten & Bishamonten attending Uga Benzaiten. The introduction of “Hindu-cum-Buddhist” deities began in earnest in the early 9th C. when Saichō 最澄 (767-822; founder, Japan's Tendai school) and Kūkai 空海 (774-835; founder, Japan's Shingon school) brought esoteric Buddhism to Japan after visiting China. From the very beginning, these celestial deities from the Hindu pantheon (Skt = deva, J = ten 天) were considered Buddhist figures. In Japan, they served as protectors of the nation, its people, and Buddhist law. Why did Daikokuten, Benzaiten and Bishamonten gain widespread popularity while other deva remained marginal? Unclear. From old texts and extant art, we know that Bishamonten appeared in Japan in the mid-6th C. CE as one of the Four Heavenly Kings (wherein he is known as Tamonten 多聞天, guardian of the north). He became the object of an independent cult in the next two centuries, supplanting the other three kings. When worshipped independently, he is called Bishamonten. His wife, Kichijōten 吉祥天 (Skt = Śrī Lakṣmī), was supplanted in Japan by Benzaiten. Both goddesses were introduced to Japan by at least the 8th C. in Yijing’s 義浄 (635-713) Chinese translation of the Konkōmyō saishō ō kyō 金光明最勝 (Sutra of Golden Light). See T.16.665.434b25-438c23, in which Benzaiten appears as a nation-protecting 8-armed warrior goddess. Images of Daikokuten came last, in the early 9th C., via the mandala (Slide 11), but the Japanese were already aware of Yìjìng’s 義淨 (635–713) text [T2125.54.0209 b21], which described him as a seated human-like black-colored god holding a purse. Curiously, this form didn’t appear in Japanese statuary until the 11th C (Slides 19, 20, 21). All three deva share overlapping associations that involve war (nation protecting), treasure (water, rice) and prosperity. All three came to prominence among warriors during the Kamakura & Muromachi eras, a time of incessant civil disturbance. All three are worshipped independently & all are members of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31). SOURCES: (last access Aug. 2017): (1) MFA Boston. (2) Catherine Ludvik's story, Impressions, Journal of Japanese Art Society of America, Number 33, 2012, p. 104. (3) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙, or the “Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images.” Published in 1690 CE. (4) Kanazawa Bunko 金沢文庫, Exhibition Catalog (Dec. 9 - Feb. 5, 2012), Messages Within: The World of Icons Hidden Inside Buddhist Statues 仏像からのメッセジ－像内納入品の世界, p. 19, p. 59. Says Faure (p. 226): “The pairing of Daikokuten & Benzaiten is a specific feature of medieval Japanese texts. In Tendai esotericism, this pairing came to symbolize the coupling of esotericism & exotericism.” On p. 225, Faure quotes Tendai monk Kōen 興円 (1262-1317): “On the crown of Benzaiten, there is a white snake with the head of an old man. It is Daikoku Tenjin. Daikokuten and Benzaiten correspond to the yin & the yang, the father and the mother, the source of all things.” See Notebook for more; also see 14th-C text Keiran Shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集, T. 2410, 76.0636c17, 76.0640a03, and 76.0864a13. Scholar Catherine Ludvik (p. 251) says the 8-armed Benzaiten was derived in large part from Hindu battle goddess Durgā 突迦, who is a manifestation of Kālī (the black one, Śiva’s wife, female form of Mahākāla, i.e. Daikokuten). Like Daikokuten, Benzaiten comes in both fierce and benign forms.
Slide 29. Mahākāla / Daikokuten’s (M/D) demonic form (Slides 11-15) never achieved the popularity of his benign human form (Slides 16-21). Around the 16th C. CE, his demonic & benign forms were “reconnected” in a new configuration known as Sanmen Daikokuten (SMD) 三面大黒天, which fused three deities into one – M/D, Bishamonten 毘沙門天 (Skt = Vaiśravaṇa) & Benzaiten 弁才天 (Skt = Sarasvatī). This form is specific to Japan. Unknown who created it, but most legends involve Saichō 最澄 (767-822). See Slide 19 for legends. This form protects warriors & the three treasures (Buddha, Buddhist law, community of believers). It shares affinities with Kōjin 荒神 (fig. 6 above), Japan’s god of the kitchen fire. Today both are considered identical, for icons of SMD placed in kitchens are called Kōjin. By the Edo era, the main pillar of the home (often near the kitchen) was called Daikoku-bashira 大黒柱. SMD rose to popularity in the war-torn Muromachi era. Warlords Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 (1543–1616) & Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1537-1598) were said to be fervent believers in the deity, whose cult was likely created at Tendai’s Mt. Hiei to compete with Shingon deity Yashajin 夜叉神 (aka Matara 摩多羅; see also Slide 33), who consists of Shōten 聖天, Dakiniten 荼吉尼天 & Benzaiten 弁才天 [as described in the text Gyōki 御記 attributed to prince-monk Shūkaku 守覺 (1150-1202) T2493.78.0614a13. Learn more at DDB (login = guest). M/D is closely linked to all these deities. SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Eishin-ji 英信寺, Tokyo. 1596 CE. Pix Schumacher. See temple placard. It says M/D is Benzaiten’s husband; that human-headed snake kami Ugajin 宇賀神 is M/D; and that kami Sannō 山王 at Mt. Hiei is M/D. (2, 3, 4) From へんな仏像 (Strange Buddhist Statues), Honda Fujio 本田不二雄, 2012. (2) Ibid. Hōsen-ji 賽泉寺, Tokyo. (3) Ibid. Daien-ji 大円寺, Tokyo. (4) Ibid. Daizōkyō-ji 大蔵経寺, Fuefuki, Yamanashi. (5, 6, 7) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙, Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images. 1690 CE. (5) Ibid. (6) Ibid. Sanbō Kōjin 三宝荒神 (important to Shugendō 修験道 order). Like M/D, Kōjin comes in both fierce/gentle forms. (7) Ibid. Kojima Kōjin 小嶋荒神, who appeared in a dream of 11th-C. monk Shinkō 真興 (founder, Kojima-dera 子島寺, Nara). Snake appears below deity. (8) Koyasu Kōjin 子安荒神, Renkō-ji 蓮香寺, Nagano. 1543 CE, ICP. Female, holds babe, patron of easy childbirth, child rearing, lactating mothers. 16th-C. warrior Murakami Yoshikiyo 村上義清 (1501-1573) prayed to Kōjin when his wife had trouble conceiving. A child was born & he commissioned this icon. More photos.
Slide 30. Six Forms of Daikokuten (Roku Daikokuten 六大黒天). The origin of this grouping is unclear, but extant art points to the late Muromachi era. The grouping mimics earlier sets of Six Kannon and Six Jizō (the latter two sets appeared in the 10th century). The number six represents the six realms of karmic rebirth (Rokudō 六道), also known as the cycle of suffering (saṃsāra). The function of the Six Kannon and Six Jizō is to assist people in each of the six realms of karmic rebirth. Daikokuten’s close association with death and the graveyard (Slide 10) was probably the catalyst for creating a group of Six Daikokuten. The six are: (1) Biku Daikoku 比丘大黒, a priest, mallet in right hand, vajra-hilted sword in left, said to be Mahādeva (the Buddha in a previous incarnation), a kitchen guardian; (2) Ōikara Daikoku 王子迦羅大黒, princely figure, sword in right hand, vajra in left, son of Śiva; (3) Yakṣa Daikoku 夜叉大黒, princely figure, holds wheel of law in right hand, subdues demons; (4) Mahākāla Daikoku-nyo 摩伽迦羅大黒如 or 摩訶迦羅大黑女, female, bale of rice on head, wears Chinese robe, manifestation of Hindu goddess Kālī (wife of Śiva; aka Durgā); in esoteric cults, Daikokuten is the masculine form of Kālī; (5) Shinda Daikoku 信陀大黒 or 眞陀大黑, boy holding wish-granting jewel (Skt = cintāmaṇi), which symbolizes the bestowal of fortune; (6) Makara Daikoku 摩伽羅大黑, mallet in right hand, money bag slung over back, standing atop lotus leaf. In modern times, Daikokuten is nearly always shown standing or sitting atop rice bales. SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Exhibit catalog, National Treasures of Tōji Temple; in Celebration of the Temple’s 1200th Anniversary 東寺国宝展, 1995, p. 119, p. 219. Also see TZ.7.3134.F7 (op. 0589-0590). (2) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙 (Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images), 1690 CE. (3) Temple catalog, Buddhist Deities of Sanjūsangendō 三十三間堂の佛たち, Published by Asukaen, Dec. 2003, p. 21, p. 51. (4) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙, 1690 CE. Click here for details on the Nijūhachi Bushū 二十八部衆 (28 Legions Serving 1,000-Armed Kannon).
Slide 31. Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin 七福神). One is native to Japan (Ebisu), three from India’s Hindu pantheon (Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Daikokuten), & three from China’s Folk-Daoist-Buddhist traditions (Fukurokuju, Hotei, Jurōjin). The group’s origin is unclear, but it likely sprang from Mt. Hiei (bastion of Daikokuten worship & Tendai faith in Japan). Says Graham (p. 110): “Probably only in the 2nd half of the 17th C. did the conception of a set of seven lucky deities coalesce.” The group’s members, however, varied until being standardized in the late 18th C. Why seven? Some point to monk Tenkai 天海 (d. 1643). Frédéric (p. 238) says the number recalls popular Chinese art themes like the Seven Wise Men of the Bamboo Thicket, while Graham (p. 112) says Chinese artwork of Eight Daoist Immortals is the prototype. JAANUS mentions the 5th-C. Chinese sutra Ninnōgyō 仁王経 [T245.08.0832b29], which states “seven adversities disappeared, seven fortunes arose” 七難即滅七福即生. The term “shichifuku” 七福 (seven fortunes) can be traced back even earlier, e.g., 2nd-C. Chinese translation (from Sanskrit?). by An Shigao 安世高, & the Kansho 漢書 (early history of Han China) by Hango 班固 (BC 92-32). But the best argument (in my mind) involves Daikokuten’s seven “mother” attendants (Slide 32), the seven Big Dipper stars, the seven forms of Daikokuten in Dali (Slide 8), & the seven Mt. Hiei shrines (the deity’s stronghold). Amoghavajra 不空 (705–774) identifies the seven mothers as Mahākāla’s [Daikokuten’s] attendants in his Lǐqùshì 理趣釋 [T1003.19.616a11]. The 11th-C Daikoku Tenjin Hō 大黒天神法 [T1287.21.356a15] also makes this connection. The Lǐqùshì (login = guest), says Bryson (p. 23), “provides a textual precedent for Mahākāla & a group of seven deities.” The 14th-C. text Keiran Shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集 [T2410.76.0637c02] says Daikokuten is the “global body” of the seven planets, who in turn are the essence of the seven Big Dipper stars. In medieval times, writes Faure (p. 53): “Mahākāla was worshiped in China on the day when one prays for children during the Festival of the Seventh (Month), known as the Tanabata 七夕 [or Star] Festival in Japan.” All these clues point in one direction – DAIKOKUTEN IS THE LINCHPIN TO UNDERSTANDING JAPAN’S SEVEN LUCKY GODS. Iyanaga Nobumi, a leading scholar on this deity, says the same. Daikokuten’s links with Benzaiten, Bishamonten, & Ebisu (Slides 28, 29, 35) are well documented. Hotei, like Daikokuten, appears with pot belly & treasure bag (Slide 33). Fukurokuju & Jurōjin are Chinese astral gods linked to longevity, the Pole Star, & Big Dipper. One of Dali’s seven Mahākāla (Slide 8, Fig. 2) represents longevity & stands on a dais depicting seven stars. Lastly, the rivalry between the Buddhist & (emerging) Shinto camps triggered “competing efforts in domesticating the seven.” See Yijiang Zhong, p. 32, who mentions the 1698 Nihon Shichi Fukujin Den 日本七福神傳 by monk Makaaraya 摩訶阿頼耶 & the 1737 Shichi Fukujin Godenki 七福神傳記 by Shinto popularizer Masuho Zanko 増穂残口. The former text provided a Buddhist account. The latter argued the seven originated in Japan’s Divine Age. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Kanō Tanyū 狩野探幽 (1602-1674). (2) Kanō Yasunobu 狩野安信 (1613-1685). (3) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙, 1690 CE. (4) Zōho Shoshū Butsuzō-zui 増補諸宗仏像図彙, 1783 CE, Image 59. (5) Ibid, Image 77. (6) Tosa Mitsusuke 土佐光祐 (1675-1710). (7) Tosa Mitsuyoshi 土佐光芳 (d. 1772). For more on the Seven, see Encyclopedia of Shinto.
Slide 32. Seven Mothers (J. Shomoten 諸母天, Shichimoten 七母天, Shichi Shimai 七姉妹, Shichi Matari 七摩怛里). “Matari” is derived from Sanskrit Mātṛ or Mātṛkā, meaning “mother.” There are groupings of 7, 8, or more mothers. The 7 were originally demonesses, but once integrated into the Hindu & Buddhist pantheons, they were “tamed” & depicted as beautiful maidens. Says Faure (p. 68): “This evolution led to a distinction between two types of Mothers, the old (malevolent) & the new (benevolent).” Their origin can be traced to old Hindu myths. In the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata, the 7 Mothers are associated with Skanda (Śiva’s son) & feared as killers of human children. In the Sanskrit Śiva Purāṇa, Śiva is battling Andhaka (an Asura 阿修羅 demon king). When wounded, Andhaka’s blood falls to the ground & produces his clones. To defeat Andhaka, Śiva & other gods create their śakti (female versions) to catch & drink the blood before it hits the ground. Andhaka repents and becomes leader of Śiva’s horde. This latter myth describes in a nutshell the origin of the 7 mothers & their linkage to M/D. In Asian art, the 7 often appear with Śiva (Mahākāla/Daikokuten, M/D) & Vināyaka/Gaṇeśa (V/G, Śiva’s son; Slides 14-15). This group of 7 mothers provides [perhaps] a precedent for M/D's seven manifestations in Dali (Slide 8) & the Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31) in Japan. Japanese Buddhists certainly knew of the 7 mothers early on. They are described in the commentary of Chinese monk Yīxíng 一行 (683–727; login = guest) as attendants of Yama (judge of the dead) [T.39.1796.0634b11], but Amoghavajra 不空 (705–774), in his Chinese translation of the Lǐqùjīng 理趣経 [T.8.243.0785c16], & in his commentary Lǐqùshì 理趣釋 [T.19.1003.616a11], identifies the mothers as M/D’s attendants. The early 6th-C. tantric text Móulí màntuóluó zhòu jīng 牟梨曼陀羅呪經 [T19.1007.0668a29] makes the same association. M/D’s affinity with the mothers underscores his strong association with female ogresses (Hāritī, ḍākinīs, rākṣasīs, 7 mothers; login = guest), the child-eating King Kalmāṣapāda, the cannibal & lord of obstacles V/G, & Matarajin 摩多羅神 (Slide 33), whose name is a transliteration of “mātaraḥ,” the plural form of mātṛ. The ḍākinīs, 7 mothers, & V/G are part of M/D’s retinue & also part of Yama’s demonic troupe. They devour the “vital essence” of people. Yuvraj Krishan p. 134 argues that mātṛka refers to the benign mothers, while ḍākinī refers to the old malevolent ones. Faure writes (p. 54): “M/D’s mallet is described as a magic tool, a kind of cintāmaṇi; but it is also a magic weapon, used in connection with epidemics. In the Matari-jin 摩怛哩神 ritual centered on the 7 Mothers, the 7 each hold a mallet, and this attribute is explained by their role as epidemic deities.” Later, on page 309, Faure writes: “They hold mallets like M/D, but in their case (and perhaps in his too, initially), it is in order to drive nails into the head of a sick person. The motif is derived from the 7 Mothers that appear in the Enmaten (i.e., Yama) Mandala.” Lastly, like M/D, the 7 Mothers, V/G, Hāritī, and others are associated with the 7 Big Dipper Stars. See Faure, p. 249, 295, 303, 314, 318, 321, 323, 326, 380. On page 424, he writes: “The identification of the 7 Mothers with the 7 stars of the Northern Dipper also brings Matarajin (qua Mahākāla) closer to V/G & to Hārītī, who appears in the company of the 7 stars in the 7-Star Nyoirin Mandala. SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) British Museum. (2) Vedic Age Blog. (3) LACMA. (4) Shichimoten Rishue 七母天理趣會, Japanese medieval copy of a 9th-C. Chinese maṇḍala, TZ.5.F3044 (op. 890). See also Iyanaga p. 308. (5) Kakuzenshō 覺禪鈔, 13th C. TZ.5.F3022 (op. 573-574). Also see Iyanaga, pp. 246–248 & 584–585.
Slide 33. The medieval flip-flop of the Ḍākinīs & Seven Mothers (Slide 32) from demonic ogresses to protective goddesses in the retinue of Mahākāla / Daikokuten (M/D) brought about new associations & identities. These transformations emphasized Japanese elements yet retained their Śaivic roots. The Ḍākinīs haunted graveyards, fed on human flesh & blood, and stole one’s “vital essence.” In the 8th-C. Commentary on the Mahāvairocana Sūtra [T.39.1796.0687b27], the Buddha Mahāvairocana (大日如來, 毘盧遮那) transformed himself into M/D and tamed them. By the 14th C. (maybe earlier), they morphed in Japan into a single individualized goddess & also into a single “three-headed” deity (aka Three Deva) riding a fox (thereafter linked to Inari 稲荷, the Japanese kami of cereals, associated with the Hata 秦 clan, a Korean immigrant group). The triad format is common in Asian. It is not specific to Japan. The number three played a huge role in Tendai epistemology. M/D’s stronghold at Mt. Hiei was structured with an upper, middle, & lower set of shrines -- each set composed of 7 shrines (3 X 7 = 21). M/D’s close connections with the Big Dipper & the Seven Mothers was likely at play here. The Three Deva consist of Shōten (Gaṇeśa; Slide 14) 聖天, Dakiniten 荼吉尼天 & Benzaiten 弁才天 (all in M/D’s retinue). The model for the Three Deva was the three-faced Shingon deity Matarajin 摩多羅神 (aka Yashajin 夜叉神) described in the Gyōki 御記, a text attributed to Japanese prince-monk Shūkaku 守覺 (1150-1202), but perhaps an apocryphal work of the 13th C. See T.78.2493.0614a13. Matarajin’s central face is Shōten, whereas the Three Deva often show Dakiniten or Benzaiten at center. Tendai’s “Three-Faced M/D” (Slide 29) was likely created to compete with Shingon’s three-faced Matarajin. The latter’s evolution is enigmatic. The term “Matara” 摩多羅 is a transliteration of Sanskrit “mātaraḥ” (plural form of “mātṛ”), which means “mother,” thus connecting him to the Seven Mothers (Slide 32). He is a god of obstacles who fused with M/D & Dakiniten. He is also linked to the Big Dipper (fig. 8). By the Edo era, he morphed into an old man who became the patron of performing arts (fig. 8). His prototypes were presumably Shinra Myōjin (fig. 9) & Sekizan Myōjin (fig. 10). These two deities have Korean origins & protect Tendai temples. For details, see Faure (chapters 6, 7, 8) & Iyanaga (chapter XII). SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Daihi Taizō Daimandara 大悲胎蔵大曼荼羅 (Ninnaji Version 仁和寺版), TZ.1.2948.F775 (op. 816). (2) New York Met. (3) Yochi-in 桜池院, Mt Kōya. See Faure (p. 245). (4) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (5) Hōsen-ji 賽泉寺, Tokyo. From へんな仏像 (Strange Buddhist Statues), Honda Fujio 本田不二雄, 2012. (6) British Museum. (7) Same as Fig. 4. (8) Rinnō-ji 輪王寺, Nikkō. (9) Shinra Myōjin 新羅明神, Onjō-ji 園城寺 (aka Miidera 三井寺) in Shiga, near Mt. Hiei. Onjō-ji led Tendai’s “temple” branchi, whereas Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei led Tendai’s “mountain” branch. Learn more. (10) Sekizan Myōjin 赤山明神, Ichigami Shrine 市神神社, Shiga. Often depicted in red Chinese garb, wears 3-peaked crown, holds bow/arrow. (11) Hotei 布袋 by Kano Yukinobu 狩野雪信 (a. mid-17th C). Photo Baxleystamps. Like M/D, Hotei is pot bellied & carries a treasure sack. In China, he is paired with Skanda (Siva’s son, Gaṇeśa’s brother) as protector of the temple gate. (12) 3-faced long-life Hotei 寿三面布袋 by Utagawa Sadafusa 歌川貞房 (a. mid-19th C). Photo Shogakukan 小学館. (13) Hinzuru (Piṇḍola) 賓頭盧, Tōdai-ji, Nara. Photo Schumacher. Piṇḍola, known for his gluttony, was condemned to remain in this world until the arrival of the future buddha Maitreya (J = Miroku 弥勒). Hotei (figs. 11, 12) is a manifestation of Maitreya. Iyanaga (pp. 197-205) stresses the affinities between Piṇḍola, M/D, Hārītī, & Gaṇeśa (e.g., gluttony, protectors of temple kitchens & gates). Ḍākinīten 荼枳尼天･拏枳尼天･吒枳尼天. Matarajin 摩多羅神･摩怛羅神･摩怛哩神･摩怛利神. For more on Three Deva, see Faure.
Slide 34. Daikokuten’s rise to widespread adoration among the common folk in Japan’s Edo era (1603-1867) was due, in part, to his earlier “pairing” with Japanese kami (deity) Ebisu 恵比寿, the tutelary of the ocean, fishing, & merchant classes. Says scholar Yijiang Zhong (p. 37): “Shrines to Ebisu as a tutelary of the marketplace were dedicated (kanjō 勸請) within the temple Tōdai-ji in Nara in 1163 and at Kamakura’s Tsurugaoka Hachimangū-ji [shrine-temple] in 1253, and they gradually drew the devotion of merchants, in conjunction with the expansion of commerce.” Daikokuten & Ebisu (D/E) appear together as fortune gods (fukujin 福神) in a Muromachi-era (1392-1573) kyōgen 狂言 (comical theater) play named “Ebisu Daikoku” 惠比須大黒 featuring the three-faced Daikokuten (Slide 29) of Mt. Hiei (his stronghold) & Ebisu of Nishinomiya Shrine (his stronghold). D/E also appear in a short work from the same period entitled “Daikoku-mai” 大黒舞 (Dance of Daikoku) – the topic of Fig. 9 above. From at least the 16th C., a common custom among farmers & merchants (still practiced today) was to install statues of the duo in their homes (especially in the kitchen), with Daikokuten representing agriculture & bountiful harvests, and Ebisu representing the ocean & bountiful fishing. Both are heralded by merchants as gods of “good trading.” D/E are [perhaps] the most widely recognized “dynamic duo” in Japan’s religious traditions. When appearing as two of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31), the two are often placed side by side. Around the mid-17th C., D/E were purposefully conflated with kami Ōkuninushi & his son Kotoshironushi by the priests of Izumo Shrine (Slide 35). Ebisu’s origins are obscure. The etymology of his name (夷, 戎) is strongly related to the word emishi 蝦夷, meaning "foreigner" or "barbarian" or “wild." Emishi also refers to northeastern Japan (Ezo 蝦夷) and its indigenous Ainu people. Ebisu likely appeared around the Heian era (794-1185) as a warrior-type figure (see Fig. 8 & also Awata Shrine 粟田神社, Kyoto). Says JAANUS: "Worship of Ebisu became very popular during the Edo era, when Ebisu dolls were mass-produced & sold throughout the country by traveling Ebisu puppeteers (ebisumawashi 恵比須回 or ebisukaki 夷舁) mainly from Nishinomiya Shrine 西宮 in Hyōgo prefecture." These puppets were orginally meant to ward off illness. For more, see Darren-Jon Ashmore (Akita Int'l Univ., 2007). There are at least three origin stories. (1) Ebisu is a fearsome “alien / crippled” god from afar who afflicts the community with disease; (2) he is Kotohironushi, the third child of Ōkuninushi (Slide 35), and (3) he is Hiruko 蛭子, the “leech” child of Izanaga & Izumi as described in classical J-texts. See EBISU NOTEBOOK for origin stories. Ebisu spellings = 恵比寿, 惠比壽, 惠比須, 夷, 戎, 恵誹施, 蛭子. Hiruko 蛭子 can be read Ebisu. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) MOA Museum of Art , Shizuoka. (2) Modern reproduction, Yahoo Auctions. (3) Nanchiku 南竹. (4) Butsuzō-zu-i 仏像図彙 (Collected Illustrations of Buddhist Images). (5) Goei 御影 (votive images), Sensō-ji 浅草寺, Tokyo. (6) MFA, Boston. (7) Reproduction, MFA, Boston. (8) MFA, Boston. (9) Nanchiku 南竹. (10) Ebisu Sapporo Beer. (11) Kanamono 金物 (decorative metalwork), MFA, Boston. (12) Kanamono, MFA, Boston. MORE RESOURCES: Kokugakuin, & Yijiang Zhong, pp. 36-48.
Slide 35. The “pairing” of Daikokuten & Ebisu (D/E) in the Muromachi era (Slide 34) was a catalyst in the creation of the Seven Lucky Gods in the ensuing Edo era (Slide 31). The pairing also served as a springboard for the financially strapped Izumo Shrine. In the mid-17th C., Izumo priests conflated D/E with Japanese deities Ōkuninushi 大国主神 (Great Land Master) & his son Kotoshironushi 事代主神 (Oracular Master). See Fig. 8. By piggybacking off D/E’s fame, the shrine hoped to raise funds and ensure its future. Images of Ōkuninushi (OKN) were distributed nationwide by itinerant Izumo preachers (oshi 御師). These images looked much like Daikokuten, but often, instead of holding Daikokuten’s magic mallet & treasure sack, OKN was shown with a bead (see Zhong, pp. 26-28) in his hands (Figs. 3, 4, 8) or accompanied by the white rabbit of Inaba (Figs. 7, 10). By the late Edo era, OKN’s popularity as kami of creation, protection, land, & wealth began to rival that of Shinto’s supreme sun goddess Amaterasu. See see Zhong’s article for details. It must be noted that OKN’s doppelgänger, Ōmononushi 大物主命 (aka the “Miwa Deity”), was conflated with Daikokuten by at least the early 14th C. (see Notebook). Even so, OKN remained largely unknown to the common folk & clerics until his mid-17th C. resurrection by Izumo preachers. OKN appears in Japan’s oldest texts – the Kojiki 古事記 (712 CE) & Nihon Shoki 日本書紀 (720 CE) – as the leader of the earthly kami. He is credited with building (taming) the land, but he eventually cedes his domain to the heavenly deities led by Amaterasu, & then retreats to the “land of shades” (yūkai 幽界). OKN lore is confusing. Known by many different names (see Notebook), OKN is associated with various early mountain kami (likely of continental origin), including Ōyamakui 大山咋神 (Mt. Hiei’s original deity), Matsuno-o 松尾神 (Fig. 2), Kamo no Kami 賀茂神, & especially Ōnamuchi (Fig. 1) / Ōmononushi (aka Miwa Daimyōjin 三輪大明神), perhaps the most powerful kami in Japan’s early history. The Miwa deity was invited to Mt. Hiei before Saichō 最澄 (767-822) founded his stronghold there. As protector of Hiei’s temple-shrine complex, the Miwa deity (aka Sannō 山王, Mountain King) was conflated with Mt. Hiei’s Daikokuten in the medieval period, as reported in the early 14th-C. Japanese texts Miwa Daimyōjin Engi 三輪大明神緣起; see p. 29 online) & the Keiran Shūyōshū 渓嵐拾葉集. Both texts say the Miwa deity manifested itself to Saichō “in the guise of Daikoku Tenjin 大黒天神.” The Keiran Shūyōshū [T.76.2410.0634b02 thru b29] adds that Daikoku Tenjin appeared to Saichō as an old man (Slide 36). The text also equates Daikokuten with Sannō 山王, the collective name for Mt. Hiei’s many protective kami. Lastly, by the late Heian era, Daikokuten was considered a landlord deity (jinushi 地主). The 11th-C. Japanese text Daikoku Tenjin Hō [T.21.1287.0355b13] says he manifests as the male earth deity Kenrō Jiten 堅牢地天 (Fig. 9), further reinforcing Daikokuten’s affinities with OKN, the “original landlord” of all Japan (Slide 36). SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) TNM, Grand Exhibition of Sacred Treasures from Shinto Shrines, p. 194, April 2013. (2) Ibid, p. 158. (3) Drawing by Izumo priest Senge Toshikatsu 千家俊勝 (act. 18th C.). Pix Yijiang Zhong, p. 35. (4) Print block used by Izumo’s preachers to make images of OKN wherever they travelled. Pix Yijiang Zhong, p. 35. (5) Wood panel, Izumo Taisha. Pix Yijiang Zhong, p. 35. (6) Ōkuninushi-sha 大国主社, part of Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社, Kyoto. Pix Author. (7) Jishu Shrine 地主神社, Kyoto. Votive tablet promoting enmusubi 縁結び (lit. “love tie”). Aimed at folks who want to find marriage partners. OKN’s “matchmaker role” was an Edo-era invention of Izumo priests. Pix Author. (8) Toga Shrine 砥鹿神社, Aichi. Pix Author. (9) Chōju-in 長寿院 (aka Ōhora Benzaiten 大洞弁財天), Shiga. Pix Author. (10) Modern Guide to KOJIKI’s Origin Stories 今こそ知りたい、この国の始まり 古事記, Asahi 2015. RESOURCES: Search old J-texts online at JHTI. Also see The Karmic Origins of the Great Bright Miwa Deity by Anna Andreeva, 2010.
Slide 36. Special Report by Iyanaga Nobumi (b. 1948). The 11th-C. Japanese text Daikoku Tenjin Hō [T.21.1287.0355b13] says Daikokuten is a form of earth-deity Kenrō Jiten 堅牢地天 (Slide 35, Fig. 9). This fusing certainly impacted the 14th-C. identification of Daikokuten with the kami of Mt. Miwa & the 17th-C. conflation of Daikokuten with the kami Ōkuninushi (of Izumo). Details on Slide 35. Kenrō Jiten's origin can be traced back to ancient India’s "earth goddess" Pṛthivī 地天 (J = Jiten). Curiously, in China, Pṛthivī morphed into a male "land" deity who manifested itself in the guise of an old man (Fig. 7). This sex change represents a double transformation -- a female goddess turned into an elderly male, & the earth replaced with the land. Pṛthivī is closely associated with Kubera / Vaiśravaṇa (J = Bishamonten; details Slides 22-24). In Asia & Japan, Pṛthivī appears in early art holding the warrior deity Tobatsu Bishamonten 兜跋毘沙門天 atop her hands (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Like Tobatsu Bishamonten, India's Mahākāla (aka Daikokuten) was, early on, described as standing atop Pṛthivī's hands. The Chinese text Issaikyō Ongi (Sound & Meaning of All Sūtras) by central-Asia monk Huìlín 慧琳 (737-820) [T.54.2128.366b14-17] says: "Under Mahākāla’s feet is earth goddess Dìshén Nŭ Tiān 地神女天 (aka Pṛthivī), who holds him on her two hands" (Fig. 6). This statement is the source of the Daikoku Tenjin Hō citation mentioned above. It is also assuredly based on the teachings of Huìlín’s master, Amoghavajra 不空 (705-774) & is reminiscent of the iconography of Śiva (aka Mahākāla) subjugating Andhaka (Slide 6, Fig. 1). In China, however, the earth was not deified. Instead, the "land" of each "locality" was controlled by a specific male deity (most often depicted as an old man). Similarly, in Japan, most kami were tied to a specific locality. Ōnamuchi (Slide 35, Fig. 1) / Ōmononushi was the kami of Mt. Miwa; Ōkuninushi was that of Izumo, Amaterasu that of Ise, and Inari that of Fushimi. But these kami could also be “invited” to other localities. Mt. Miwa’s kami was “invited” to Mt. Hiei sometime in the 7th-8th C. & thereafter marginalized the pre-existing cult of Mt. Hiei's original kami Ōyamakui. But Ōyamakui was not displaced -- his divine protection was made stronger by the “invited” Miwa kami. It could be argued that, around the start of Japan’s medieval period, the Tendai esoteric tradition conceived Daikokuten as a form of Vaiśravaṇa (Bishamonten), one associated with specific locales (“the land”), & one who appeared in the guise of an old man. Such a god could be easily linked to the strongest protector deity of Mt. Hiei, who was at that time the Miwa kami. In the early 14th-C. Japanese text Keiran Shūyōshū [T.76.2410.0634b06 and b21], the Miwa deity manifests itself to Saichō 最澄 (767-822) as an elderly man “in the guise of Daikoku Tenjin 大黒天神.” On the other hand, Ōkuninushi (the principle kami of Izumo), was considered the “original & oldest owner” of all Japanese lands, as implied in his name, lit. “Great Land Master,” or “Great Land Owner,” or “Great Landlord.” Ōkuninushi eventually ceded all the lands of Japan to the heavenly kami led by Amaterasu. The Miwa kami was in a very similar position. Commanding the center of the Yamato plains, the Miwa deity was probably the supreme kami of the early Yamato (Japan) dynasty before ceding his position to Amaterasu. This clearly underpinned the connections between Daikokuten, the Miwa kami, & Ōkuninushi. This process of successive associations can be recapped as follows: Daikokuten, a protector god of Mt. Hiei in the 13th C., was conflated with Mt. Miwa’s kami (also enshrined at Mt. Hiei) in the early 14th C. Then later, around the mid-17th C., when Izumo Shrine gained prestige & power, Daikokuten came to be identified with Ōkuninushi, the “original landlord” of all Japan. It must be noted that in Japan’s ancient myths, the name Ōmononushi (aka Mt. Miwa deity) was also one of the many names of Ōkuninushi (Izumo deity), yet the two -- Mt. Miwa kami & Izumo kami -- were perceived as different gods. Some scholars tend to simply & utterly conflate the two, but this is not quite correct. SOURCES (last access Aug. 2017): (1) Aurel Stein’s (1862-1943) Ancient Khotan, Vol. 2, Plate XIV, c. (2) Tobatsu Bishamon article by scholar Phyllis Granoff, 1970. (3) Reportedly brought to Japan from China in the Tang era (618-907). Photo 日本の仏像 #33, Feb. 7, 2008. (4) Portion of painting, Pelliot Collection, Musée Guimet. Photo from web. (5) Int’l Dunhuang Project. Search site for term “vaisravana.” (6) Art of Nepal (1985), Pratapaditya Pal, p. 130. (7) Online Chinese estore. For more details, see For more details, see Notebook = Functional Affinities Between Ōkuninushi & Daikokuten..
Slide 37. Tanokami 田の神 (Rice Paddy Kami). Icons of this fat dwarfish kami 神 (deity) are found throughout Japan, especially in Kyushu. The conflation of this land kami with Daikokuten occurred (probably) in the 17th century. Unclear who conceived him like this, but the fusion of the two is easily understood. After all, Daikokuten was already one of Japan’s most popular gods of the food crop and kitchen, hence wealth (rice was money in bygone days) – and his iconography had for centuries depicted him standing / sitting atop bales of rice. The resurrection & conflation of landlord kami Ōkuninushi (Slide 35) with Daikokuten in the 17th C. may have acted as a catalyst as well. Tanokami has many names, e.g., nōgami 農神 (kami of farming) or sakugami 作神 (kami of production). He is typically depicted as a peasant, wearing a farmer’s hat, holding a bowl, rice scoop (shamoji しゃもじ), or a pestle (surikogi すりこぎ). Details at Shinto Encyclopedia. He sometimes appears as a female or as a husband-wife pair (Fig. 1 & 2). He is also occasionally conflated with Ebisu (Slide 34). When viewed from the back, Tanokami icons from time to time depict a penis (symbol of fertility). SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Sōtai Tanokami 双体田の神 (male/female pair). Stone, 1842, Ichikikushikino いちき串木野市, Kagoshima. Pix here & here. (2) Sōtai Tanokami. Stone, 1836, Niitomi Nishiyokoma 新富西横間, Kagoshima. Pix #2 Here. (3) Stone, H = 118 cm, 1847, Shibushi 志布志市, Kagoshima. Pix #3 here. (4) Tanokami (aka Tanokansa たのかんさあ). Painted Stone, H = 44 cm, Kagoshima. Pix from Shinto Encyclopedia. (5) Stone, 1644, oldest statue of Tanokami in Japan. Yokogawa-chō 横川町, Kirishima 霧島市, Kagoshima. Photo #5 here. (6) Painted Stone, 1780, So-o 曽於市, Ōkawara 大川原, Kagoshima. Photo #6 here. (7) Stone, modern, Chiyonosono Sake Brewery, Yamaga, Kumamoto. Photo Author. (8) Kirishima 霧島市, Kagoshima. Looks like Daikokuten but holds rice scoop instead of magic mallet. Photo #8 here. (9) Stone, 1731, Nejimekawakita ねじめかわきた, Kagoshima. Photo #9 here. (10) Stone, modern, Mutabaru 牟田原, Kitanishikata 北西方, Miyazaki. Photo #10 here. (11) Seal of Tanohara Daikokuten 田ノ原大黒天, 2008. This form is enshrined at Mt. Ontake 御岳山, Gunma. Photo Ichida Masataka & Shinto Encyclopedia. (12) Same source as Fig. 7. Click here for more photos.
Slide 38. Slide 38. By Iyanaga Nobumi 彌永信美. In Japan, Daikoku’s messenger animal is the rat. Why? An instinctual reply might be that Daikoku (god of agriculture) is often shown with rice bales, and since rats love rice, it is only natural to link Daikoku with rats. Although plausible, historical sources do not support this theory. Japan’s oldest text about Daikoku is the Shingon text Yōson Dōjō-Kan 要尊道場観 [T.2468.78.63b17] by Japanese monk Shunnyū 淳祐 (890-953). It describes the god holding a large bag on his shoulder – a bag the color of “rat hair” (somō-jiki 鼠毛色). This strange 10th C. reference to the rat predates the 14th C. appearance of Daikoku atop rice bales (Slide 27). The rat-colored bag reminds us of Kubera (aka Jambhala in later Buddhist sources). Kubera (Slides 22-24) is a “wealth god” from old India. He holds a bag/purse in the shape of a “mongoose.” The mouth of this animal-purse spits out treasures. But the mongoose was unknown in Central Asia, China, and Japan in those bygone days. It was replaced with a rat, as attested by the many descriptions of Kubera with a rat-fur purse (or simply with rats) in Central Asian & Chinese texts (notably Dunhuang). Did Shunnyū know of this iconography? CERTAINLY NOT. But it should be considered a plausible reason for Shunnyū’s mention of the rat. What about Daikoku’s association with Kubera (more often identified with Buddhist Vaiśravaṇa (J = Bishamonten 毘沙門天). Kubera is guardian of the north and general of the yakṣas (nature demons). He is pot-bellied & dwarf-like. His demonic origins are closely connected with Śiva (Slide 6) and Śiva’s demonic entourage, and with the fat elephant-headed Gaṇeśa (Slide 14-15), one of Śiva’s sons. Gaṇeśa is chief of the gaṇa demons (servants of Śiva) and resembles fat Kubera. Gaṇeśa’s animal servant is a rat. When Chinese pilgrim/translator Yìjìng 義淨 (635–713) traveled in India, he saw at the Mahānirvāṇa Buddhist temple a male/female pair installed in its kitchen, which he identified as Mahākāla (Daikoku) and Hārītī. The Daikoku icon held a purse. Further, Yìjìng’s Daikoku is likely a form of Pāñcika (Slides 22-24), the traditional “husband” of Hārītī (Slides 23, 24) in old Buddhist myth, who in turn is a regional form of Kubera (in Gandhāra). In this way, Yìjìng’s Daikoku can be considered a particular Buddhist form of Kubera (that was the theory of Alfred Foucher, 1865–1952), while the Japanese Daikoku prescribed by Shunnyū is derived from the remote Indic Kubera -- hence the association with a rat-colored bag. BUT THEN, has this Daikoku no connection at all with India’s Mahākāla, the terrifying form of Śiva? I do not think so. India’s Buddhists knew of Śiva’s demonic forms in very old times (Slide 6-12). Thus, this far-fetched tour of myth & iconography from India, Central Asia, China and Japan allows us to unravel some very complicated associations between ideas & images, and reveals the underlying demonic aspects of “fortune deities.” For more on this topic, see Iyanaga’s Daikokuten Hensō 大黒天変相 (2002). SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) British Museum (Stein). Image likely based on Indian prototype, as mongoose was not familiar to the Chinese. (2) Rijks Museum.
Slide 39. As Iyanaya points out (Slide 38), the rat motif reveals a complex mythological canvas, one replete with blood ties, family resemblances, shared attributes & functions. His theory is interesting – i.e., Daikokuten’s link to the rat came first (10th C.); this led to his link to rice (14th C.); this then led to his great popularity in Edo Japan. However, I would add that Daikokuten was a guardian of monestary kitchens from early on (see Slide 19), and his link to rice probably occurred much earlier than his link to the rat. It should also be mentioned that the rat corresponds to north & to midnight (i.e. black) in the Asian zodiac. Daikokuten means “Great Black.” Also, it is important to note that Daikokuten’s link to the rat did not filter down into common lore & popular art until much later. Extant art suggests the rat was introduced to Daikokuten art in the 18th C. Around that time, Daikokuten was also linked to radishes (Slide 40). Adding rats & radishes to his iconography calls to mind the fat elephant-headed Gaṇeśa (Slide 14), who centuries earlier in mainland Asia was associated with rats & radishes. Gaṇeśa is the son of Śiva (aka Mahākāla/Daikokuten). Their shared attributes – rats, radishes, blood ties, pudgy – point to a shared mythology that is not easily dismissed. Said Lévi Strauss: “The earth of mythology is round” (1966, p. 8). Says Iyanaga: “No matter where one decides to start, one always arrives at the same results" (Buddhas & Kami in Japan, p. 159). Japan’s pantheon of gods is not a “hopeless incoherence,” (notes Allan Grapard, p. 75), “but an extremely concrete combinatory phenomenon” wherein deities “gained by accretion & interplay a mass of meaning they didn’t have independently” SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Woodblock, Torii Kiyohiro 鳥居清広 (active 1737-1776), MFA. (2) Woodblock, Keisai Eisen 渓斎英泉 (1790-1848), MFA. (3) Stone tablet, 1804, Kasshi Onsen 甲子温泉, Fukushima. Top inscription refers to “Rat Mountain Daikokuten.” (Slide 28), 4Travel.jp. (4) Rats atop rice bales, stone, 1850, Fukusō-ji 福相寺, Tokyo. (5) Figurine (kanamono 金物), 19th C., MFA. (6) 19th C. Daikoku, Ebisu, Rat & treasure cart, MFA. (7) Netsuke, 19th C., MFA. (8) Mallet & Rat. 1828. MFA. Also see 7 Daikoku in Rat Year and Jerry Vegder’s Blog. SPECULATION: The 17/18th century “traveling priests” of Izumo Shrine may have acted as the main catalyst in the rat’s linkage to Daikokuten. See Slide 39 Notebook for details.
Slide 40. The rat motif (Slides 38, 39) and radish symbolism unequivocally associate Daikokuten with Gaṇeśa (Slide 14). The fat, elephant-headed Gaṇeśa (Śiva’s son) was long ago linked to rats & radishes. Not so Daikokuten (Japan’s "tamed" form of Śiva). Based on extant art, Daikokuten's link to rats/radishes rose to popularity in the 18th C. Perhaps wordplay was involved — daikon 大根 (radish) is phonetically akin to Daikoku. But the link could have happened without wordplay, for the two deities share many other attributes (e.g., both grant wishes of a monetary or sexual nature). SEE NOTEBOOK (PDF). SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Daikokuten carrying forked radish (i.e., naked woman). Katsushika Hokuga 葛飾北雅 (a. 1804–1844), MFA. Offering forked radishes to Daikokuten, writes Chaudhuri, began in the Muromachi (1392-1573). Extant art suggests a later date. (2) Daikokuten & rats pulling radish-shaped portable shrine, Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-1889), Freer/Sackler. (3) Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686–1764) MFA. (4) By late 16th C., Daikokuten was shown with the manofica hand gesture, a symbol of the female organ (as is the forked radish). Such images don’t hold a mallet or stand atop rice bales. Rather, manofica fist replaces mallet; lotus replaces bales.(5) Hirata Kōmyō-ji 下羽田光明寺, Shiga. See History of Phallicism in Japan 日本性神史 (1961), Nishioka Hideo 西岡秀雄 (1913-2011). (6) Ibid. Backside depicts the male organ. Prostitutes kept such idols. Daikokuten is sometimes depicted solely as a phallus. (7) Bliss Deva & radish (see Slide 14). Asabashō 阿娑縛抄, TZ.9.3190.83 (op. 0616-0617), Eizan Bunko, 叡山文庫, Shiga. See Slide 14 for more on this deity. (8) Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797–1858), MFA. (9) Offering of forked radish, Morino Sōgyoku 森野宗玉 (a. 1764–1772), MFA. (10) Real radish. (11) Asakusa Shrine 浅草神社, Tokyo. Intertwined radishes often adorn Gaṇeśa [Slide 14] shrines. Pix here. (12) Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686–1764), MFA. (13) Kunisada II 歌川国定 (1823–1880), TML. Spoof on Tale of Otoshime 乙しめ. (14) Toyohara Kunichika 豊原国周 (1835–1900), Soga Brothers.
Slide 41. In Edo Japan (1600-1867), two itinerant monks – Enkū 円空 (1632-1695) & Mokujiki 木喰 (1718-1810) – revived a technique known as natabori 鉈彫 (hatchet carvings; popular in the 11th C; see Edo-Era Sculptors). Nearly all their icons were carved from a single block of wood (not hollowed out), giving their pieces a freshness that differed greatly from the refined works of traditional Buddhist sculpture. In modern Japan, their extant carvings are prized. Q & A SESSION. (Q): Why are there so many fanciful forms of jovial Daikokuten? (A): There are (almost) no canonical texts prescribing Daikokuten’s iconography (as there are for other Buddhist deities, especially those important to Esoteric Buddhism). Due to this (perhaps), artists had free rein to portray Daikokuten in myriad whimsical forms (this is the theory of Iyanaga Nobumi, b. 1948). By the Taishō era (1912-1926), collectors enjoyed an enormous range of Daikokuten forms (e.g., see INAX (Osaka) exhibit Ebisu & Daikoku: Lucky Gods with Cheerful Smiles ゑびす大黒展 - 笑顔の神さま, held in 2009. Over 300 statuettes of the two deities appeared, most from the Edo era. Order exhibit catalog. SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) Enkū Reference Library 中観音堂・羽島円空資料館, Hashima City, Gifu. Photo here. (2) 4th Exhibit of Nagoya Enkū Butsu Society 第４回名古屋円空仏の会の作品展, Nagoya Citizens Gallery, May 2015. (3) Enkū Reference Library, Gifu. Photo here. (4) Same source as Fig. 2. (5) Private collection, Inasachō 引佐町, Shizuoka. Photo here. (6) Inryū-ji Temple 蔭凉寺, Nantan, Kyoto. The temple claims Mokujiki carved 37 statues of Daikokuten in his life. This one was his last, they say, carved when he was 90. Photo here. (7) Sado Museum 佐渡博物館, Niigata. Photo here & here. (8) Mokujiki Kannon-dō Temple 小栗山木喰観音堂, Niigata. See Japan’s Buddhist Statues 日本の仏像 (#47, May 2008) & online. (9) Ibid.
Slide 42. In the Edo era (1603-1867), most feudal clans issued their own money (which often featured Daikokuten). During this time, the printing of money in Japan was uncoordinated. The Meiji (1868-1912) reformation changed all that, with the government taking control of the entire nation’s finances. In 1882, it founded the Bank of Japan (BOJ) 日本銀行. The bank issued its first banknotes in 1885 (Fig. 1). The notes -- called the Daikoku-satsu 大黒札– were designed by Italian engraver Edoardo Chiossone (1833-1898) and came in denominations of one, ten, and one hundred yen. All featured a fat Daikokuten sitting atop rice bales, holding a magic mallet & treasure sack, & accompanied by rats (Slides 36-37). How befitting for the God of Wealth to usher in Japan’s modern monetary system. Another note appeared in 1886 (Fig. 3), followed in 1911 by a 100-yen note issued in Korea (then under Japanese rule). For more on Japan’s currency, see the BOJ Currency Museum. Curiously, a web search for Daikokuten postage stamps yields no results, albeit many deities appear on postage stamps. SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1) One yen note. First issued 1885. BOJ. No longer circulated. Photo #1 here, here, here, & here. (2) Ibid. (3) Five yen banknote. First issued 1886. BOJ. No longer circulated. Photo #3 here & here. (4) Ibid. (5) Genroku era (1688-1704). Photo #5 here. (6) Hōei era (1704-1711). Photo #6 here. (7) Sword Guard (tsuba 鍔), Edo era, New York Met. Photo #7 here. (8) Kyōhō era (1716-1736). Photo #8 here. (9) Edo era. Photo #9 here. (10) Edo era. Photo #10 here. (11) Nippon Shintaku Bank 日本信託銀行. Issued 1989. Photo #11 here. (12) Edo era. Photo #12 here. (13) Genbun era (1736-1741). Photo #13 here. (14) Yasuda Chochiku Ginkō 安田貯蓄銀行 (active 1st half of 20th century). Photo #14 here. (15) Modern. Daikokuten’s magic mallet (uchide nokozuchi 打ち出の小槌). Made from 5-yen coins. Private collection, Kamakura. (16) Modern. Treasure boat (takarabune 宝船) of Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31). Made from 5-yen coins. Amazon best seller.
Slide 43. Daikokuten is one of Japan’s most widely recognized & cherished divinities. Artwork of the pot-bellied, jovial, human-like deity are everywhere, showing him alone, paired with Ebisu (Slide 34), or grouping him with Bishamonten & Benzaiten (Slides 28-29) or with the Seven Lucky Gods (Slide 31). As the god of wealth, luck, business success, marriage, and agriculture (rice, food, kitchen), he serves today as the mascot for countless commercial & religious groups (e.g., on cell-phone straps, toys, candy, temple/shrine amulets, votive tablets). His horrific Hindu/Buddhist origins – his “dark side” – has been largely stripped away & forgotten (albeit the dark side is still rarely shown in images of Mahākāla; see Fig. 13). In his utterly tamed modern form, Daikokuten is a harmless, charming, & comic character, one who travels long distances to bring happiness to all -- much akin to the West’s Santa Claus (benign, fat, bag of gifts). SOURCES (last access Sept. 2017): (1, 2, 3) Shusse Daikokuten 出世大黒天 (God of Worldly Success), Muromachi Era, Wood, H = 113 cm, Kiyomizu-dera 清水寺, Kyoto. Repaired 2007 by Kyoto Traditional Arts College 京都伝統工芸大学. See Asahi Shimbun (Sept. 5, 2007). The temple sells a Daikokuten cell-phone strap (Fig. 3). (4, 5) PC-created images based on extant Edo-era statues (e.g., Fig. 5 depicts statue in Slide 39, Fig. 7). By Muukufu. (6) Modern. Nagono ナゴノ & Mai-ame Kōbō まいあめ工房. (7) Modern. See Rakuten 楽天. (8) “Rub Me” Daikokuten 触る大黒天, Hase Dera, Kamakura. Late 20th C. “Rub Me” statues are well worn, as the faithful rub the statue (e.g., knees, arms), then rub the same part of their body, beseeching the deity to heal their ailments. Photo Author. (9) By Fujita Yō-oku 藤田燿憶 (b. 1955), H = 11.5 cm. Photo here. (10) Stone, H = 5 meters, late 20th C., Ryūgenzai Kudoku-en 龍源山功徳院, Yufu, Ōita. See YouTube. (11) Japan’s largest Daikokuten. Made 2005, H = 20 meters, 8.5 tons, Mt. Myōgi 妙義山, Nakanodake Shrine 中之嶽神社, Gunma. Shrine web site. (12) Modern tattoo of Sanmen Daikokuten (Slide 28). (13) Mahākāla. Modern, by Sotonomichi. Also see artist’s blog.
Slide 44. CONCLUSION. This whirlwind visual tour of Daikokuten’s mysterious transformation from demonic to benign has reached its conclusion. Its main lessons are: (1) Daikokuten is a leading character on a complex mythological stage. He has multiple identities and associations. Defining him in isolation -- as a distinct deity with a distinct identity -- is misleading. Instead, he must be understood via his affinities, associations and conflations – via a “mytho-logic” that goes back to ancient India. As Iyanaga Nobumi convincingly argues: “A deity is not an entity. It is a moving node of different clusters of religious and mythical representations.” To repeat a line from Slide 39: “Japan’s pantheon of gods is not a hopeless incoherence, but an extremely concrete combinatory phenomenon wherein deities gained by accretion and interplay a mass of meaning they didn’t have independently (see Allan Grapard, p. 75). (2) The pattern of transformation -- from demonic to benign -- is not unique to Japan. It is Pan-Asian. The Shinto camp adopted the same paradigm. The kami have a “violent spirit” known as ara mitama 荒御霊・荒御魂 and a “gentle [or harmonious] spirit” known as nigi mitama 和御霊・和御魂. In East Asian Buddhism, there is also the notion of wakō dōjin 和光同塵 -- that saviour deities must “mellow their radiance to mingle with the mundane world.” In premodern Japan, the term referred to Buddhist divinities manifesting as indigenous Japanese kami (deities). Japan’s benign Daikokuten, it seems, was conceived early on as a Japanese kami (see Slide 25). Today he is both a Buddhist and Shinto deity. Nonetheless, it is difficult to find any clear precedent for the popular image of Daikokuten that emerged in the early 14th century. (3) In Japan, the transliterated name Mahākāla (J. Makakara) refers more generally to the Hindu god’s terrible multi-limbed Buddhist form, while the translated name Daikokuten refers more generally to the god’s benign human Japanese form. While Mahākāla / Daikokuten share the same name, their appearance is strikingly different – one is demonic with multiple heads/arms; the other is jolly, human-like, Santa-like. In Japan’s religious traditions, the deity clearly has two basic forms, one linked to a wrathful Śaiva deity (Slide 11) and the other to Kubera (fat, money bag; Slide 22). These two forms were never fully separated. Curiously, the demonic form came first to Japan, even though the gentle “Kubera form” predated it. Japan’s benign Daikokuten most likely derives from Kubera rather than from the Tantric (Esoteric) Mahākāla. Despite their duality, the two share much overlapping mythology & iconography. Around the 16th century, the two were “reconnected” with the appearance of the Three-Faced Daikokuten (Slide 29). (4) Daikokuten shares many familial ties, affinities, attributes, and functions with other deities. There is a deep mytho-logic underlying his evolution in Japan, a "logic" spanning back to ancient India and shared throughout Asia. You are free to believe anything you want. You can believe I am wrong. But the more I study it, Japan’s religious landscape is more akin to Japanese Hinduism than to Chinese Buddhism.
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Slide 45. References. Please click the red PDF icon shown at right to download the references section. Texts and images cited in this visual guide come from a wide range of sources. Two of the most important textual resources are the (1) SAT Taishō Buddhist Canon and the (2) Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (login = guest). Images too come from myriad sources, e.g., museums, temples, shrines. One of the most useful sources of medieval images of the deities is the SAT Taishō Zuzō Image Database. Additionally, I would like to thank the many museums that grant open access to their photo libraries.
Slide 45. References. Please click the red PDF icon shown at right to download the references section. Texts and images cited in this visual guide come from a wide range of sources. Two of the most important textual resources are the (1) SAT Taishō Buddhist Canon and the (2) Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (login = guest). Images too come from myriad sources, e.g., museums, temples, shrines. One of the most useful sources of medieval images of the deities is the SAT Taishō Zuzō Image Database. Additionally, I would like to thank the many museums that grant open access to their photo libraries.