Kujaku Myoo (Mahamayuri)

UnknownHeian period, 12th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

Kujaku Myoo (Skt. Mahamayuri vidyaraja) is the deified form of a peacock that eats poisonous snakes and insects. He is represented here in compassionate form, an aspect unusual for Radiant Wisdom Kings (Skt. Vidyaraja, J. Myoo). Kujaku Myoo is the principal deity of an esoteric Buddhist ritual based on the Kujaku Myoo sutras that is performed to bring or stop rain, to ward off calamities, and so on.

The Myoo sits on a peacock with a wide plume of tail feathers. In the first right hand he holds a lotus flower, and in the second right a fruit that resembles a watermelon. In his first left hand is a pomegranate, and in the second left five peacock feathers. The picture plane is filled with the Myôô and the peacock presented in full frontal pose, together with the jeweled vases placed in the four corners. In some respects, this is much like the painting style of a mandala and displays the traditional composition of works brought from China by the founder of the Shingon sect, Kûkai (774-835).

The body of the Myoo is white, to which in places faint pink has been applied and outlined in vermilion. His clearly shaded, contoured robes are in colors including peach, orange, vermilion, and green. Moreover, gold foil has been cut thinly and applied as lines to the robes, which are also studded with patterns of delicate cut gold (J. kirikane). Cut gold is also employed in his adornments and elsewhere. The peacock and the mandorla are painted with various opaque colors including green, blue, vermilion, and gold. This excellent and beautifully refined technique of color application developed during the Insei era at the end of the Heian period (794-1185).


  • Title: Kujaku Myoo (Mahamayuri)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Heian period, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w98.9 x h147.9 cm
  • Object Title: 孔雀明王像
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 孔雀明王は、毒蛇や害虫を食うという孔雀を神格化したものであるが、明王にはめずらしく慈悲の相に描かれる。密教では、雨を祈り、もろもろの災厄を除いて安楽を得させる孔雀経法の本尊とされる。 翼を広げた孔雀の上に坐る明王は、右第一手に蓮華、右第二手に西瓜に似た果物、左第一手にざくろ、左第二手に5枚の羽根がついた孔雀の尾をもつ。画面いっぱいの明王と孔雀は、ともに正面向きで動きに乏しく、四隅に置かれた宝瓶とともに一種の曼荼羅(まんだら)風に描かれ、空海が中国からもたらした伝統的な構成を示している。 明王のからだは白色で、ところどころに淡い紅色をほどこし、ふっくらとした輪郭を朱の線でくくる。着衣は桃色、橙(だいだい)、朱、緑などを輪郭にかけて明るくぼかし、さらに金箔を糸のように細く切って貼る繊細な截金(きりかね)で文様を散りばめ、装身具などには金箔も用いている。孔雀や光背は、緑、青、朱、金泥などで濃密に彩色されている。これらの優美で洗練された色彩と技法は、平安時代末の院政期にもっとも発達した。
  • Object Date: 平安時代・12世紀
  • Medium(Japanese): 絹本着色
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100158
  • Medium: Color on silk

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