View Full Version : Buddhist Guardian dieties?

7th August 2000, 00:42
Koneechewa Minasan,
I am looking to gain access to any primary sources or information regarding the "Kum Kang Yuksa" - Sukulam..
What do they look like and how did they represent asian
culture....Thank you...

Joseph Svinth
7th August 2000, 02:25
If you are describing what I think you are describing, in Japanese these are called rikishi, or strong men, which is the same word used to describe sumotori.

If so, then the bare-chested figures stand at the gates of Buddhist temples in what the Koreans now call kwon bop, or pugilistic, stances. In Korea, the guardian on the west (the excited fellow with wild hair and open mouth) represented yang energy, and was known as Mi-chi. The guardian on the east (the fellow who stands with his mouth closed and his emotions under control) represented yin energy, and was called Chin-kang. Similar temple guardians were constructed in Japan. The surviving pair at the Tedaiji Monastery in Nara was unusual, though, partly because they were next to the altar rather than the gate and mostly because they wore armor. The Tedaiji statues were made of lacquered hemp cloth spread over a wooden frame.

The Freer Gallery had an exhibition on this some years back.

Earl Hartman
9th August 2000, 20:54

I was under the impression that the guardians in question were referred to as "nio-sama". Not exactly sure what the kanji for "nio" is/are, though. (The kanji for king, "Oh" is probably in there, though.)


10th August 2000, 06:22

You and Joe are both correct. The Nio-sama are also referred to as "Rikishi" [strongmen]. The guardian on the right side is called Kongo ("Thunderbolt"), or Kongo-rikishi; he holds a thunderbolt to destroy evil, and is associated with the bodhisattva ("Buddha-to-be") Vajrapani. The guardian on the left side of the gateway is called Misshaku, or Misshaku-rikishi.

I saw one explanation of "nio" as "Two Kings;" but another site [shown below] uses the kanji for one of the 5 Confucian Ordinals ["nin ben" followed by the numeral "ni"], then "king."




Earl Hartman
10th August 2000, 17:19

That's what I thought; I just couldn't remember for sure. I guess this would translate out as "King of Humaneness", or something like that. Still, I wish the Japanese could have figured out a way to make their reading of kanji consistent; the character for Humanity/humaneness (or the quality of being properly human) is usually pronunced "jin", as far as I know.

Is the first picture you show a photo of the nio sama at Asakusa Kannon in Tokyo? Somehow it looks familiar (but you know rikishi, they all look alike after a while....).