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Title

Male and female Shintô deities

10th century-11th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

These small yet dignified deities are early examples of the anthropomorphizing of Shintô gods, 'kami'. The deities are rendered here as court nobles, with the men wearing tall caps and sceptres, symbol of secular authority, and the women in Tang-style robes and coiffure. Shintô sculptures are usually carved out of wood, often from old trees revered as the dwelling of the 'kami', in the so-called single-woodblock technique, 'ichiboku-zukuri', while appendages such as hands and feet and other hand-held attributes are added from separate pieces. Pigments were then applied to the surface to delineate the garments. This coating, however, seldom survives the passing of time.

In Japan, anthropomorphic representations of gods were unknown before the spread of Buddhism, although deities were symbolically associated with sacred objects, such as mirrors, swords, and jewels that became imperial insignia. Following the advent of Buddhism, Shintoists began to make images. The form of worship, however, did not change, as representations of gods were hidden away in the inner sanctuary of the Shintô shrine, adherents demonstrating their faith–at the entrance–simply by clapping their hands.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, April 2008.


Details


Place where the work was made

Japan


Date

10th century-11th century


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

cypress wood with traces of polychromy


Dimensions

a - male deity; 19.5 cm

b - female deity; 21 cm


Credit

Asian Collection Benefactors' Fund 2008


Location

Not on display


Accession number

69.2008.a-b



Place

Where the work was made
Japan

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Buddha's Smile: Masterpieces of Japanese Buddhist Art, Tokyo, Nov 2002. cat.no.51, 52, p.104