Wooden figure of Idaten
Size: 34 cm (wood-stand included)
Period: Mid/Late Kamakura
With a wood-stand + a wood box
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Here we have an excellent wooden figure of Idaten (Skanda).
Of joined block construction carved in a dynamic pose mid-stride, the figure is shown wearing Chinese-style armor and headdress with traces of original polychrome pigment and ink notations on the exposed wood.
Idaten (韋駄天), Skanda in Sanskrit, is a Buddhism god of deva (tenbu 天部) who guards the Buddhist teachings. He controls the eastern, western and southern quarters and his functions include protecting the Buddhist law and driving out sickness from small children.
He originates from Kartikeya, the Hindu god of war, and he is the second son of Shiva, one of the three major deities of Hinduism. He is also the younger brother of Kangiten (歓喜天), a god of the Buddhist Pantheon. He is one of the Eight generals (八大将軍) of Virūḍhaka (Zojōten 増⻑天) who is a Buddhism god and one of Four Heavenly Kings (Shitennō 四天王).
A story goes that when Yasha (夜叉, a demon (鬼) who appears in Hindu and Buddhist texts) stole the Śarīra (busshari 仏舎利, the ashes of Buddha) Idaten pursued after him and got it back, and that is why he is known as a swift runner. The expression “Idaten bashiri” (韋駄天走り, lit. “to run like Idaten”, meaning “to run like the wind”) derives from this story. He is also regarded as a deity preventing robbery. He is described as a young man clad in the armor in the Chinese style. Sometimes he is also described as a running young man with six faces and twelve arms (六面十二臂) with his hands joined (合掌), sitting on a peacock.