• Heian period, 12th century
  • Hanging scroll, color and gold on silk
  • Height 155.8 cm, width 84.5 cm
  • Important Cultural Property

Seated on the back of a water buffalo, with left leg hanging down, right arm bent, and right palm held out towards the viewer, Emmaten (Yama-deva) holds a dandajō staff in the left hand. This Emmaten form also appears in the Ge-kongōin section of the Womb Realm Mandala, one of the principal objects of worship in the esoteric Buddhism, but there is no depiction of attendant figures or background. The flesh of the deity is painted with a whitish ground with cinnabar red shading and with the details picked out in thickly drawn cinnabar lines. Later additions of color can be seen here and there, suggesting that it has been altered from its original appearance, but a section of the original hōsōge motifs on the green area of the water buffalo’s seat reveal the elegant intent of the original brushwork. The large-scale presentation of the image, filling the entire surface and the elegant, fluid style of the brushwork are characteristics of Heian period Buddhist painting.
This work was preserved at Murōji temple in Nara and later came into the possession of Hara Sankei, a well-known industrialist and collector of artwork. One episode goes that a priest of the temple, worrying about the statue, visited Sankei and that, after seeing that he was a reliable person, the priest left his house, quite relieved.