For BADA Week 2023 Sydney L Moss have chosen to feature this powerful paint-lacquered wood sculpture of Bishamon-ten, the God of Wealth and Warriors. 

Sculpture: 11th to early 13th century, late Heian to Kamakura period; mandorla: 13th century, Kamakura period; face and base: 15th century, Muromachi period.

Height: (figure): 104 cm, 41 in.; overall: 141 cm, 55 ½ in.

Bishamon-ten is neither a Buddha nor a bodhisattva, but a celestial being known as a deva (Japanese: ten). As one of Four Heavenly Kings, the ferocious protectors of the cardinal directions, Bishamon was adopted into the early Buddhist pantheon in India as the Guardian of the North and demon-stomping defender. In Japan, he became the premier protector of the nation in the 8th and 9th century as God of Warriors (as opposed to of war) and was commonly worshipped by samurai and shoguns for victory and safeguard in battle. He was also borrowed to be one of Shinto’s Seven Lucky Gods.

​​BishamonA sculpture of full three-shaku height, the classic Heian scale normally found only in Japanese temples, Bishamon stands in full, fitted armour over billowing robes. When we first published Bishamon the gold and coloured lacquer patterning was barely visible, and thought lost, destroyed beneath the incense-blackened surface acquired during his temple guarding days. A careful re-examination prompted much excitement as we realised that much of the original detail was still in place beneath the skin of soot and as it was carefully removed and cleaned we were able to see Bishamon in his former glory. In his right hand, he holds a multi-tined weapon to suppress his enemies, and in his left, a treasure-filled stupa; a circular eight-spoked mandorla stands behind the figure, with flames licking the edges to symbolise the purity of his divinity. Bishamon’s unnervingly realistic inlaid crystal eyes – very likely the result of and the modernising justification for a 15th century facelift – follow the viewer around the room, daring you to humanly err.