Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Zuijin of Kunisaki

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Zuijin is the common name given to pairs of statues found guarding some shinto shrines, usually in their own gateways called zuijinmon. Zuijin was the term given to Imperial guards.

They are a development from the buddhist Nio guardians found at many temples.

These first two are at Usa Hachimangu and are grand and large as befitting such a major shrine.

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Another name for them is Kado mori no kami, and they are most often seen dressed in Heian Period court dress and carrying bows and arrows. They are often associated with Saidaijin and Udaijin, Minister of the Left and Minister of the Right who were the highest ranking ministers in Nara and Heian government below the Chancellor.

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Almost all the zuijin I found at shrines on the Kunisaki Peninsular were carved in stone, and it is the only place I have seen them not made of wood, except for one set I saw made of ceramic in Iwami.

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Stone plays a significant part in the religious traditions of Kunisaki, with an inordinate number of stone states, cliff carvings etc.

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These last pair probably had wooden bows and arrows at some point.

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