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Use of Reproductions and Digital Contents

The Peacock Wisdom King


Title The Peacock Wisdom King
Quantity 1 hanging scroll
Date 2020
Production "Tsuzuri Project" (Official Title: Cultural Heritage Inheritance Project)

Original Work

Designation National treasure
Collection Tokyo National Museum
Medium Color on silk
Date Heian period/12th century
Collection Ref. No. A-11529


A Buddhist deity on a peacock faces the viewer. This is the Wisdom King “Kujaku Myo‘o,” or Mahamayuri in Sanskrit, a deity with the power to ward off calamities. In Buddhism, Wisdom Kings used their wrath to guide people down the right path. However, this Wisdom King is depicted with a warm, sympathetic and merciful countenance. With its resplendent colors, this is said to be the greatest of all the extant paintings depicting this Wisdom King. Highlights and gradations of color are used to skillfully imbue the deity with a gentle, soft air. The gold accents are also remarkable. Gold was hammered into thin sheets to create the foil adhered to accessories like the necklace and bracelets, with cut gold leaf also used to create the patterns on the garments. The peacock feathers, lotus leaf veins, and other parts have been gently drawn using a gold pigment made from powdered gold mixed with a glue derived from animal bones or hides. This use of gold in varying textures has imbued the work with a rich yet graceful air. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the elegant world of Heian-period Buddhist painting.