DAIKOKUTEN ICONOGRAPHY IN JAPAN -- From Hindu Destroyer to Buddhist Protector to Japanese Santa Claus. Condensed Visual Classroom Guide. Over 300 annotated photos, copious reference notes, 47 pages.

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Online Digital Resources
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

This guide’s main goal is to illustrate “visually” Japan’s taming of a demonic, bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, multi-limbed Vedic /
Indic / Hindu deity. Today, this Hindu deity (Mahākāla, a “terrible” form of Śiva) is portrayed as a harmless, human-like, potbellied, jolly fellow in Japan’s religious pantheon. His Japanese name is Daikokuten. Even in his docile bowdlerized Japanese form, he at one time rivalled the power of the benign sun goddess Amaterasu, the supreme kami 神 (native deity) of Japan’s imperial household & the centerpiece of modern Shintō. Today Daikokuten remains one of Japan’s most popular gods of good fortune (e.g., abundant harvests, well-stocked kitchens, lucrative livelihoods). In his standard modern form – portly, dwarfish, jovial, wearing a hat, holding a treasure sack, traveling everywhere to dispense fortune to the people – he is strikingly similar to the Christian world’s Santa Claus. █ The second goal is to underscore the strong influence of India (rather than China) on Japan’s pantheon of gods. In many ways, the religious landscape in Japan is more akin to Japanese Hinduism than to Chinese Buddhism. █ The third goal is to provide scholars, art historians, curators, teachers, & students with a “jumpstart” visual guide to the richness & dynamic complexity of Japan’s religious art. Nearly two millennium of Śiva artwork is organized chronologically & thematically herein. Given space limits, the guide’s “visual canvas” includes art
from only India, Central Asia, China, & Japan. Center stage is given to Japanese art from the 9th to 21st centuries. Over 300 annotated photos. PDF Version = http://www.onmarkproductions.com/Daikokuten/DAIKOKUTEN-ICONOGRAPHY-IN-JA...

Contact Info: 

Mark Schumacher
〒248-0003, Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura City, Jomyoji 6-11-24