According to Buddhism, there are six realms that mortal beings reincarnate into and live. The celestial beings live in the highest 'heaven' realm. There are eight groups of them, including Devas and Dragons. Asuras live in second realm, Human beings in third, beasts in fourth, hungry ghosts in fifth, and the worst human beings are condemned to the lowest sixth realm, the hell.
Rebirth in Buddhism refers to its teaching that the actions of a person lead to a new existence after death, in endless cycles called saṃsāra. This cycle is considered to be dhukkha, unsatisfactory and painful. The cycle stops only if liberation is achieved by insight and the extinquishing of desire.
The rebirth doctrine in Buddhism, sometimes referred to as reincarnation or metempsychosis, asserts that rebirth does not necessarily take place as another human being, but as an existence in one of the six Gati (realms) called Bhavachakra. The six realms of rebirth include Deva (heavenly), Asura (demigod), Manusya (human), Tiryak (animals), Preta (ghosts), and Naraka (resident of hell). This rebirth, state Buddhism traditions, is determined by karma, with good realms favored by Kushala (good karma), while a rebirth in evil realms is a consequence of Akushala (bad karma). While Nirvana is the ultimate goal of Buddhist teaching, much of traditional Buddhist practice has been centered on gaining merit and merit transfer, whereby one gains rebirth in the good realms and avoids rebirth in the evil realms. (Wikipedia)
A deva (देव Sanskrit and Pāli) in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the godlike characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, much happier than humans, although the same level of veneration is not paid to them as to buddhas.
Other words used in Buddhist texts to refer to similar supernatural beings are dēvatā (देवता; "deity") and dēvaputra (देवपुत्र; Pāli: devaputta; "son of god"). It is unclear what the distinction between these terms is.
Nine Devas - Source unknown exact - Style Khleang - Last quarter of the tenth century, early eleventh century - Sandstone - Musée Guimet, Paris - Left to right: Surya (the sun) on a chariot pulled by two horses, Candra (moon) on a pedestal, Yama (judge of the dead, guardian of the South) on the buffalo, Varuna (god of water, guardian of the west) on Hamsa, Indra (king of gods, guardian of the east) on elephant Airavata, Kubera (god of wealth, guardian of the north) on the horse, Agni (god of fire, the guardian of the south-east) on the ram, Rahu (the demon of eclipse) in a swirl of clouds and Ketu (comet) on the lion.
Devata and Apsaras
Devata and Apsaras
A male Hindu deity flanked on either sides by two female deities. These figures is probably devata and apsaras. The relief panel on the wall of Vishnu temple, Prambanan, Java, Indonesia.
Devatas at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Angkor Wat has some 1,796 of them. DevataDevata
Devatas are considered as the divine guardian spirits of sacred palaces. They help to transform man-made buildings into sanctified areas. They are the Khmer equivalent of Guardian Angels in our mythology. Their charm and sensuality are an obvious representation of the divine.
The Offering of the Six Devas
Buddhistic statues praising and making offerings to the Tian Tan Buddha. Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong, can be seen in the background.
Gate Guardian Deva Kings
Gate Guardian Deva Kings
Gate Guardian Deva Kings at Sinheungsa, the main temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It is situated on the slopes of Seoraksan in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, South Korea.
Deva King Indra (Hinduism)
Deva King Indra (Hinduism)
Devas are benevolent supernatural beings in the Vedic era literature, with Indra (above) as their leader. This gilt copper statue of Indra with inlaid semi-precious stones is from 16th-century Nepal.
Devas announce the coming of a Buddha.
(Left) The future Buddha, Deva Setaketu, (called Gotama Bodhisatta in the text below), is shown in the Tusita Deva heaven surrounded by Devas. (Right) Devas announce the coming of a Buddha in a thousand years time.
Devata and Deity
DevataHalf-Figure of a Deity
Left: Clay, H. 35.0 cm. Kizil, Last Area, Last Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8200)
Right: Clay, H. 35.0 cm. Kizil, Last Area, Last Cave, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8200)
Left: This unusual statue of a devata, one of the nameless
divine beings, is clothed in a transparent garment that
shows only in broad folds around the neck. The crown,
in the form of a wreath with reddish brown and green
stripes, rests on the attractively styled, blue-tinted hair,
which falls in ringlets over both shoulders. Similarly
curly hair can be seen in many clay figures from Shorchuk, the site to the east of Kucha halfway toward
Turfan. The figure is primed white with a matt finish;
the eyebrows, mustache, and edges of the eyelids are
delineated by black lines, the sides of the nose, the
eyelids, ears, and lines of the forehead by fine reddish
Right: 89 Half-Figure of a Deity
Chikkan Kul, 9th century
Clay, H. 34.5 cm.
MIK III 8538
Near Murtuk, between the village of Bezeklik and the
uppermost part of the Sengim gorge, to the west of
the mountain ridge, is another settlement, by the name
of Chikkan Kul. It consists of a number of caves in a
gorge near a large lake. Buddhist ruins have been
found on the shores of the lake and on an island lying
in shallow water. Discovered in the caves, besides a
few badly damaged wall paintings, were some very fine
heads from clay statues.
This rather paunchy half-figure has Chinese fea-
tures. The eyes are narrow, the eyebrows and nose
straight; the mouth, originally painted a bright red,
is small. Traces of a green mustache and a vertical
green furrow in the chin are to be seen. There are also
traces of green paint on the only remaining arm, which
hangs at the figure's right side. The hair, bound by a
decorative fillet, is arranged in stylized waves on the
forehead and temples. The only ornament worn by the
deity was a string of beads, two of which have survived
at the neckline on the right.
Left: Clay, H. 49.5 cm. Yarkhoto, 8th-9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7621)
Right: Wall painting, 19x15 cm. Sengim, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 6761 )
Left: If the religious art of Turfan is mainly exemplified by
paintings, it also led to a huge number of sculptures
in various materials, chiefly clay. As in the Kucha region, here too the clay was kneaded with chopped
straw and animal hair; figures were sometimes mold-made, sometimes modeled by hand.
This half-figure of a male deity is painted blue and
is of rather unusual design. The arms are raised, apparently as an expression of surprise; the right arm has
been broken off at the elbow, and the fingers are missing from the left hand. The scarf wound round the
upper arms originally came down to the chest, which
is decorated with crossed bands. The only articles of
jewelry are the remains of a snug-fitting chain round
the neck and a bracelet on the wrist. The god has a
friendly smile on his face, enhanced by his round
cheeks. His red hair is dressed high in front in a stylized
S-pattern; behind the ears it reaches down to the neck.
With his blue body and red hair the figure is often
taken to represent a demon; but he has neither fangs,
almost a sine qua non for a demon, nor pointed ears.
Missing, too, are the prominent eyes that are frequently a characteristic of demons.
Right: About three miles north of Khocho, where the Karakhoja River issues from a narrow gorge (called in
Turkish agiz, or the mouth), lie the temple complexes
of Sengim (Fig. n).
It is a dark, mysterious gorge with steep hills, raising their
threatening heights along the western bank of the stream,
and with frequent torrents of stones and avalanches of mud,
during the melting of the mountain snow, crashing down
upon its narrow paths. In spite of the forbidding character
of the landscape, the left or western side of the ravine is
studded with a line of temples, whilst the heights on the
right are occupied by many Indian relic memorials (stupas),
some of which rise on the very edge of the stream. (Le Coq
1926; trans. 1928, p. 83)
This small deity was found in the ruins of the terrace
of Southern Temple 10. The two-dimensional face
appears to be without expression. The hair is tied at
the back of the head in an artistic bow; a jaunty little
hat decorated with flowers is perched on the front of
the head. A scarf flutters around the robe, which is
crossed over in front. In the deity's hands is a bowl
Head of a Devata
Head of a Devata
Left: Clay, painted, H. 38 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Statues, 6th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7918)
Right: Clay, H. 28.1 cm. Khocho, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4480)
Left: This head once belonged to a larger than life-sized
figure and was completely painted. The lack of a mustache gives the face a peculiarly gende expression, and
it is not hard to identify it as that of a devata, one of
the nameless Buddhist deities. Beneath a crown composed of a wreath and overhanging tress, the hair is
loosely swept up in symmetrically arranged, crescent-shaped locks. The color scheme is the same as that of
the other sculptures and paintings found in the Cave
of the Statues.
Right:The Turfan region was not exclusively the province of
Chinese artists, as is shown not only by one or two
wall paintings, such as No. 90, but also by a few sculptures. This head of a devata with its regular features
is evidence of Indo-Iranian artists at work in Khocho.
The deity's face is in low relief. Below the elegant
brows the half-open eyes, revealing the irises, have a
dreamy look. The high forehead has a shallow incision
between the eyebrows. On each side of the center
parting, the hair is dressed in an elaborate design
similar to the motifs of a floral border, while the rest
of the hair is swept up in tresses that disappear under
a lozenge-patterned chaplet.
Head of a Devata
Head of a Devata
Left: Clay, H. 16.5 cm. Shorchuk, Nakshatra Cave, late 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7865)
Right: Clay, H. 11.5 cm. Shorchuk, Temple in the South of the City, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7862)
Left: This noteworthy head can be taken as an example of
the transition from West to East, from the Indo-Iranian style to the Buddhist Chinese. In the face, though
it is still of the "balloon" type, and in the small mouth
there is little to remind us of Western physiognomy.
The coiffure also seems to announce new developments: the hair is still set in waves around the forehead,
but is arranged in the center in a mushroom shape
instead of an oval. The eyelids are no longer traced
horizontally: they turn distinctly downward.
Right: This small head of a devata is very similar to those of
the half-figures previously described. The mold-made face is regularly proportioned, and the entire head is
heavily painted. Heads of this type, of no great iconographic significance, have been found in many different sizes.
Half-Figure of a Devata
Half-Figure of a Devata
Left: Clay, H. 46.0 cm. Shorchuk, Kirin Cave, 7th -8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8203)
Right: Clay, H. 52.0 cm. Shorchuk, Nakshatra Cave, 7th- 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8197)
Left: This half-figure of a devata, with hands gracefully
joined in anjalimudra, differs in detail from comparable sculptures. The right ear was apparently always
without ornament; instead, the hair on that side falls
decoratively upon the upper arm. The ornamentation
of the upper arms is also different, and the shawl,
which is spread like a mandorla, is rather awkwardly
draped over the bent elbows. With a flower clasped
between the hands, the devata radiates peace and tranquillity.
Right: Shorchuk is a small village halfway between Kucha
and Turfan, with the towns of Kurla to the west and
Karashahr to the east. At the foot of the mountains
stood a whole row of temples in the open, but these
seem to have been destroyed by fire. As they yielded
nothing but a few badly damaged fragments of clay
figures, attention was directed to the nearby cave temples, where extremely interesting manuscripts and wall
paintings were discovered, together with numerous
painted clay statues of great beauty.
As at many other sites in Central Asia, the interiors
of the cave temples in Shorchuk were religious settings
composed of painting and sculpture, all grouped
around the central cult image. A few examples of clay
statues, taken mainly from the niches, will help us to
appreciate the style of these decorations. The devata
half-figures, which differ only in their details, were
undoubtedly made from molds. They appear stereotyped with their symmetrical faces, the almost identical
chaplets worn on top of the head, the hair which is
tied together behind and falls in wavy locks around
the shoulders, and the ornamental chains resting on
the naked chest. Yet the artists always managed to
introduce new and imaginative variations.
Half-Figure of a Devata and a Standing Devata
Half-Figure of a DevataStanding Devata
Left: Clay, H. 52.0 cm. Shorchuk, Nakshatra Cave, 7th- 8th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8203)
Right: Clay, H. 72.7 cm. Tumshuk, Eastern Area, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8201)
Left: The green shawl hangs down from the back of the
devata's head in roughly executed folds around the
hand-modeled body, which is bare-chested, primed
with a flesh color, and painted. The face is made from
a mold. The hairline, the edges of the eyelids, and the
furrow in the chin are drawn in red; the mouth is also
painted red. The chaplet, hairstyle, and ornaments are
very similar to those of No. 65. Both sculptures were
evidently designed as niche figures.
Right: In contrast to the clay figures from the Kucha region,
most of those found in Tumshuk are of a soft, sensual
elegance, reminiscent of the paintings and sculptures
from Fondukistan in Afghanistan.
This slender, graceful devata wears a green shawllike
garment, which leaves the right shoulder and arm bare.
The garment covering the lower part of the body, held
in place by a belt below the waist, seems to consist of
several lengths of material, some of them knotted in
the middle, others hanging free. The figure stands on
her right leg, the left leg raised in a dancer's pose. It
is hard to say whether the raised right hand has any
particular significance. Unlike the bodhisattva figures,
where the ornamentation is often taken to extremes,
this devata is adorned with only a few rosettes and
armbands. Her graceful look is enhanced by the mild
expression on her face.
Painting on ramie, 10x7 cm. Khocho, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4998)
Holding the handle of a censer in both hands, the
diminutive figure faces right, his head thrown back.
In the original composition he had probably made an
offering to a Buddha or bodhisattva. All that is left of
the painting is this small fragment, showing the pious
devata's head and chest. His long blue hair hangs down
his back behind his left shoulder. Head, chest, and
arms are richly decked with gold ornaments studded
with jewels. A scroll-patterned sash, edged with gold,
is worn over his left shoulder and across the chest.
Head of a Devaputra
Head of a Devaputra
Wall painting, 10.0 x 17.0 cm. Kizil, Cave of the Painters, ca. 500
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8690a)
The Cave of the Painters is, if not the earliest, one of
the earliest cave temples of its type, and certainly the
most beautifully decorated. It consists of a wide vestibule connected with the cella by a flight of wooden
steps. At the time of its discovery the ceiling of the
cella had largely collapsed, but the remains of an im-
itation lantern roof were still recognizable. 1 Architecturally, this cave is of the third type: in other words
the icon stood on a pedestal against the rear wall of
the cella and a barrel-vaulted ambulatory led around
Though the cult image itself was not preserved, a
painting of the Visit of Indra was still visible on the
niche walls. According to legend, the Buddha once
retired to a cave in order to meditate. Indra, wishing
to ask him some questions, approached him with a
crowd of other gods. To announce his coming Indra
sent ahead the gandharva Panchasikha, who played a
soothing melody on his harp.
Each of the side walls of the cave bore nine scenes
of the preaching Buddha. To one of them (Fig. b)
belonged this beautiful head of a devaputra, hovering
in the air, the thumb and forefinger of his left hand
placed thoughtfully and gracefully to his lips.
The Cave of the Painters was so called on account
of the many depictions of painters found on its walls
(Fig. C). One of them was even signed: above the male
head at the foot of Figure C is a cartouche with the
name of the artist (or donor): citmkam tutukasya,
"[portrait] of the painter Tutuka." As Waldschmidt
These words are written, beyond doubt, in the ductus of the
archaic style of Turkestanian Brahmi, which Liiders dates
to the fifth to sixth centuries. To be even more precise, it
would seem to me more likely that these inscriptions, compared with ones of a similar type, were executed before rather
than after a.d. 500. If we agree to say "shortly before or
around a.d. 500," this gives us a precise date for the Cave
of the Painters, and also a definite starting point for the first
style. I do not believe that the other paintings (in the same
style) can vary more than fifty years from the execution of
the Cave of the Painters. (Le Coq & Waldschmidt 1928-33,
VII, p. 28)
1. In freestanding buildings this type of construction was made
by placing four triangular stone slabs across the corners of a square.
The process was repeated in diminishing tiers until the opening at
the top was small enough to be closed with a single slab. This
method of construction has been imitated in the caves.
Dragon in a lake
Wall painting, 66x56 cm. Bezeklik, Temple 19, 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8383 )
The hall of worship designated Temple 19 in Bezeklik
is a cave temple hewn in the rock, which has a barrel
vault with an arched window over the entrance door.
The pedestal of the cult image is situated further forward than usual, so that the space behind it is almost
as large as the cella in front.
This mural is part of a larger scene on the right-hand wall of the pedestal, of which we have no description or visible evidence in its entirety. Stylized
mountains, their valleys wooded with various kinds
of trees, encircle a lake from which is emerging a two-horned dragon with slender wings. In view are the
monster's forequarters, its claws, and its head and neck
with a white mane. Anger is visible in the eyes, and
its jaws are wide open. In a valley in the foreground
the head and neck of a gazelle can be seen.
The legend to which this painting refers cannot be
Ryūjin (Netsuke Arts)
Netsuke are miniature sculptures that were invented in 17th-century Japan to serve a practical function. These richly carved small toggles once used to attach pouches or cases to traditional Japanese garments. It evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship.
Ryūjin (Netsuke)Ryūjin (Netsuke)
Wood, height 4 inches. Late eighteenth-early nineteenth century.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910)
Ryūjin, the Dragon King of the Sea, probably
came into Japanese folklore from China. He
is a popular figure in netsuke, usually shown
as a fierce old man, with a long curling beard,
and accompanied by a dragon. Here, he holds
the jewel by which he controls the tides.
This example is in the style of Yoshimura
Shūzan of Osaka, a Kana-school painter of
the mid-eighteenth century, who, according
to the Soken Kisho, was considered one of the
finest carvers of his day. He is the innovator
in netsuke of legendary and mythological figures done in this technique: the carved
wood was covered with a gessolike sealer
over which watercolor was applied.
Although this sculpture is in Shūzan's
style, it is boxwood rather than the softer,
more open-grained cypress that he favored,
suggesting that it was not carved by the
master himself. Its freshness of color is the
result of applying oxidized copper and other
minerals in a solution of glue. Ryūjin's garment
is ornamented with a design in gold
lacquer, simulating patterns often found on
the robes of Buddhist sculptures.
This is an exceptional carving, with man
and beast represented in a close relationship.
The artist has communicated their dependence
by carving parts of the dragon's body
under the king's garments, implying that
man and dragon are one.
Toyomasa (Naito) (1773-1856) of Tamba
Province was an artist who achieved an extraordinary
synthesis between the spontaneity
of the eighteenth century and
the realism of the nineteenth century. His
works represent what could be termed a
He was known to worship the Dainichi-Nyorai
("Great Sun Buddha"), indicating
that he belonged to one of the esoteric sects
of Buddhism and was familiar with a rich
pantheon of supernatural beings. He created
many versions of several basic designs, the
Gama Sennin (no. 74) probably being his
With rare exceptions Toyomasa used tsuge,
a light-colored boxwood to which a stain,
made from yasha, a kind of nut, was usually
applied. After the piece had taken on the dark
brown shade he favored, some areas were
lightened by polishing. Large, bulbous eyes
of inlaid tortoiseshell, whose yellow color
contrasted with the dark-stained wood, are
characteristic of his animal and figural sculptures.
The open-mouthed expressions on the
faces of both men and beasts are also a hallmark
of Toyomasa's style.
This figure shows an extraordinary curvilinear
flow. In this piece and in his Gama
Sennin, the artist has chosen a spot slightly
above the central image as the focal point of
his composition. Here all movement flows
from the "pearl" which Rytijin holds high
above his head. Both man and dragon seem
to flow from it. This feeling is heightened
by the hair, beard, and garments which swirl
from the stationary figure. The dragon, executed
in sharp detail, encircles the man's
body, but the relationship between them is
not as symbiotic as in the earlier ū (no.
12) in the style of Shūzan.
There is no bone about Jellyfish
One legend involving Ryūjin is the story about how the jellyfish lost its bones. According to this story, Ryūjin wanted to eat monkey's liver (in some versions of the story, to heal an incurable rash), and sent the jellyfish to get him a monkey. The monkey managed to sneak away from the jellyfish by telling him that he had put his liver in a jar in the forest and offered to go and get it. As the jellyfish came back and told Ryūjin what had happened, Ryūjin became so angry that he beat the jellyfish until its bones were crushed.
Ryūjin, Jellyfish, Octopus, and Monkey
Octopus (Netsuke)Octopus and Monkey (Netsuke)
Left: Wood, height 1.75 inches. Nineteenth century.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910)
Right: Ivory, length 1.5 inches. Nineteenth century. Signed: Rantei
The Edward C. Moore Collection, (Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891)
The octopus has provided the Japanese with
food for their imagination as well as for their
table. It is sometimes identified as a messenger
of Ryūjin, the King of the Sea.
The humorous treatment of the octopus is
enhanced by the careful insertions of ivory
and black coral, creating bulging eyes which
stare in an almost quizzical manner. The realism
of the twisting tentacles is heightened by
the accurately rendered suckers lining their
sides. The oversized head is minutely stippled,
The octopus sometimes represents Yakushi,
the Buddha of Healing, and the wearer
of this netsuke might have used it as a constant
prayer for good health, its serious intent
masked by a humorous exterior.
This unlikely combination probably alludes
to an episode in the legend of Ryūjin in which
the Dragon King's doctor, an octopus, prescribes
the liver of a live monkey as the cure
for an ailment. A jellyfish is sent to find a
monkey but fails in his mission, and the story
ends there. However, the pair shown here
is often depicted in netsuke, probably indicating
that the octopus finally undertook the
The excellence of this netsuke lies in the
skillful use of dissimilar shapes and forms,
and in the artist's ability to communicate
some of the terror and physical pressures of
the fight. (Struggle for survival is a common theme in Rantei's netsuke.) The expressions
are exaggerated, and the force with which
the monkey pushes his adversary is seen in
the indentation in the octopus's head.
Unlike earlier Kyoto artists who concentrated
on the larger, individual zodiac animals,
Rantei, an exceptional artist for his
generation, was a stylish innovator. He and
his followers usually worked with combinations
of figures in a smaller format. Despite
the smaller size, however, they were able to
give their netsuke greater expression through
more realistic detailing.
Ryūjin's Daughter / Dragon
Ryūjin's Daughter (Netsuke)Dragon (Netsuke)
Left: Wood, height 3.25 inches. Nineteenth century. Signed: Yokeisai and seal.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910)
Right: Ivory, height 1.75 inches. Eighteenth century.
The H. 0. Havemeyer Collection, (Bequest of Mrs. H. 0. Havemeyer, 1929)
Left: According to legend, Ryūjin, the Dragon
King of the Sea, had two daughters . One was
the famed Otohime, whose name may be
traced back to mythology of the eighth century;
the other, who is not named, is said to
wear a fish as a headdress. Any artistic interpretation
of this second daughter and her familiar
is unusual, and this netsuke appears
to be unique.
The woman's face, with its sharply defined
features, bears a marked resemblance to the
fish perched on her head, producing an
amusingly grotesque effect. The Chinese-style
robe is softly contoured and falls gently
against the trousered legs. Her arms bend
gracefully, and her elegant, long-fingered
hands hold a heaping basket of sea urchins,
as if making an offering. The back of the
sculpture is intricately carved, and the rear
panel of her garment is cut in the shape of
a scaled fish. The cord openings are integrated
into the patterning of the design.
Nothing is known about the artist who
created this imaginative sculpture.
The dragon is the only mythical beast included
in the zodiac. The traditional Japanese
interpretation has a flat head with two horns
extending down its back, long whiskers, a
scaly, snakelike body with spines on its back,
and three-clawed feet (the Chinese imperial
dragon has five-clawed feet) . It is said to embody
both male and female characteristics
and has unlimited powers of adaptation. This
one is unusual, as it seems to be based on the
seventeenth-century doughnut-shaped style
of netsuke. Continuous wear has worn an
indentation on the inside curve of the tail
Hard-working and sincere, people born in
the year of the dragon are known for their
energy. Easily excitable, they are, however,
Ryūjin or Ryōjin (龍神 "Dragon God"), also known as Ōwatatsumi , was the tutelary (protector) divinity of the sea in Japanese mythology . This Japanese dragon symbolized the power of the ocean . He had a big mouth and was able to transform into a human form. Ryūjin lived in the Ryūgū-jō , a palace under the sea, built with red and white corals, from where he controlled the waves of the sea with magical tide jewels (Kanju and Manju) with which he could appease and rave the tide. Sea turtles, fish and jellyfish are often described as the servants of Ryūjin.
Ryūjin was the father of the beautiful goddess Otohime who married the hunter prince Hoori. The first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have been a grandson of Otohime and Hoori's. Thus, Ryūjin is said to be one of the ancestors of the Japanese imperial dynasty.
The legend of Tamatori (Tamatorihime)
The fable of Tamatori-hime "Princess Takes Back The Jewel 玉取姫", which was a favorite ukiyo-e subject of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, is a variation of the Hoori and Toyatama-hime love story. Tamatori was supposedly an ama diver who married Fujiwara no Fuhito and recovered a precious jewel that the Sea God stole.
The legend of Princess Tamatori (Tamatorihime), or Ama, developed around the historical figure Fujiwara no Kamatari (614-69), who was the founder of the powerful Fujiwara clan. Upon Kamatari’s death, the Tang dynasty emperor, who had received Kamatari’s beautiful daughter as a consort, sent three priceless treasures to Japan in order to comfort his grieving lover by honoring her father. One of the treasures, a pearl, was stolen by the dragon king during a storm on its way to Japan in the inlet of Fusazaki. Kamatari’s son Fujiwara no Fuhito (659-720) went in search of the pearl to the isolated area where he met and married a beautiful pearl diver named Ama, who bore him a son. Ama, full of love for their son, vowed to help recover the stolen pearl. After many failed attempts, Ama was finally successful when the dragon and grotesque creatures guarding it were lulled to sleep by music. Upon reclaiming the treasure, she came under pursuit by the awakened sea creatures. She cut open her breast to place the pearl inside for safekeeping. The resulting flow of blood clouded the water and aided her escape. She died from the resulting wound but is revered for her selfless act of sacrifice for her husband Fuhito and their son. (Miller, Laura. 2007. Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School. Page 137)
The Pearl Diver with the Magic Crystal Pursued by the Dragon King
Tide Jewels are a set of jewels giving control of the seas. These jewels were owned by Ryujin, Dragon King of the Sea and were given by his daughter to the prince, Fire Fade, when they married. Some versions say that there were but two jewels, both pearls. One, Kanji, controlled the ebb-tide, the other, Manji, controlled the flood-tide. In some accounts, Ryujin's son, Isora, lent them to the Empress Jingo for her conquest of Korea and later gave them to her son, Ojin.
According to one legend , the Empress Jingū was able to attack Korea with the help of Ryūjin's magical tide jewels. During the confrontation with the Korean navy, the empress Jingū threw the Kanju gem (乾珠 "Gem of the Low Tide") to the sea and the waters diminished. The Korean fleet ran aground and the soldiers began to leave the ships. It was then that Jingū threw to the water the gem Manju (満珠 "Gem of the High Tide") and the tide went up, drowning to all the Korean soldiers. An annual festival called Gion Matsuri, in the temple of Yakasa celebrates this legend.
In Japanese mythology, the tide jewels--individually, the kanju (乾珠, lit. "(tide-)ebbing jewel") and manju (満珠?, lit. "(tide-)flowing jewel")-- were magical gems that the Sea God used to control the tides. Classical Japanese history texts record an ancient myth that the ocean kami Watatsumi 海神 "sea god" or Ryūjin 龍神 "dragon god" presented the kanju and manju to his demigod son-in-law Hoori, and a later legend that Empress Jingū used the tide jewels to conquer Korea. Tide jewels interrelate Japanese dragons and wani sea-monsters, Indonesian mythology, the nyoi-ju 如意珠 "cintamani; wish-fulfilling jewel" in Japanese Buddhism, magic jewels of Nāga kings in Hindu mythology, and the pearl associations of Chinese dragons in Chinese mythology.
Another legend involving Ryūjin is the story about how the jellyfish lost its bones. According to this story, Ryūjin wanted to eat monkey's liver (in some versions of the story, to heal an incurable rash), and sent the jellyfish to get him a monkey. The monkey managed to sneak away from the jellyfish by telling him that he had put his liver in a jar in the forest and offered to go and get it. As the jellyfish came back and told Ryūjin what had happened, Ryūjin became so angry that he beat the jellyfish until its bones were crushed.
Yaksha (Sanskrit यक्ष yakṣa, Odia-ଯକ୍ଷ, Pali yakkha) is the name of a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, who are caretakers of the natural treasures hidden in the earth and tree roots. They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts. The feminine form of the word is yakṣī or Yakshini (yakṣiṇī).
In Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist texts, the yakṣa has a dual personality. On the one hand, a yakṣa may be an inoffensive nature-fairy, associated with woods and mountains; but there is also a darker version of the yakṣa, which is a kind of ghost (bhuta) that haunts the wilderness and waylays and devours travelers, similar to the rakṣasas. (wikipedia)
Historically, the intricate and complicated theological edifice of Hinduism
is the result of a long process. The cult of yakshas and yakshis (tree-gods and
goddesses) or nagas and naginis (serpent deities of lakes and rivers) is probably
as old as human civilization in south and southeast Asia. Certain trees and
snakes are sacred even today, at least among the village folk. (Source: archive.org "The Freer Indian sculptures" Page3)
Left: Face of the yakṣa Thotsakhirithon (ทศคีรีธร) at Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. Thotsakhirithon - one of twelve giant demons (Yaksha), characters from the Thai Ramakian (or Ramayana) epic, guarding the south-western gate of Wat Phra Kaeo to the Grand Palace. It has a green face with an elephant nose.
Right: Guardian giant (Yaksha), this special one being called Thotsakan, character from the Thai Ramakian epic, within Wat Phra Kaeo in the Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand.
Right: Yaksha's statue, a mythical Thai being, in the public Galaxy center. Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, Russia.
Kubera is also known King of yakshas, apart from being king of riches. India, Karnataka, Varuna, circa 1050
Kubera and Jambhala
Left: Kubera. Northern India. 10th century. Sandstone. San Antonio Museum of Art
Right: Jambhala, the Buddhist Kubera, depicted similar to Kubera.
Left: Kubera, The God of Riches, Sculpture, Copper alloy, Indonesia, Central Java, early 9th century
Right: Seated Kubera, Bronze Sculpture, Indonesia (Java), early 11th century
Left: Kubera, the God of Riches, India, Uttar Pradesh, 5th century
Sculpture, Reddish brown terracotta with traces of black and white paint.
Right: Kubera. Feilai Feng, Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou, China. Additional image
This Yuan-dynasty sculpture, on the lower slopes of Feilai Feng, depicts Kubera, the Indian god of wealth. His left hand holds a mongoose, disgorging a rope of pearls; his right hand grasps an impossibly large pearl; his right foot rests upon a sea-shell.
Gandharva is a name used for distinct heavenly beings (Devine musicians & dancers) in Hinduism and Buddhism; it is also a term for skilled singers in Indian classical music.
Gandharva musician / Apsara dancer
Left: A Gandharva musician & an Apsara dancer It is a picture of the 10th century Cham "Dancers' Pedestal" belonging to the Tra Kieu Style of Cham art.
Right: Flying Gandharva and Apsara, Chalukyan Dynasty,8th Century AD,National Museum, New Delhi.
Head of Gandharva
Painting on cotton, 6.6 x 6.6 cm. Khocho, 8th -9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 4799)
This fragment, which is only a couple of inches high,
shows the head of Gandharva, one of the eight guardian deities in the service of the Buddha Shakyamuni.
Gandharva's head is covered with the skin of a lion's
head; he appears to be looking out through the open
jaws of the beast. In contrast to the terrifying snarl of
the lion with its rolling eyes and bared teeth, the deity's
soft, full face has an almost benevolent aspect; it is
only the pronounced furrow between the eyebrows
that lends him a slighdy skeptical, perhaps even vexed
expression. The brushwork, with its decisive strokes,
is full of vitality; only the eyebrows and beard are
painted with thin, stringy lines. The plasticity of the
face is enhanced by washes of color; this technique for
achieving a three-dimensional effect was brought to
China along with Buddhist painting, but it was not
pursued and soon disappeared from religious and secular painting.
Wall painting, 41x68 cm. Kumtura, Kinnari Cave, 8th- 9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8913a)
Minor Buddhist deities often to be seen in the paintings of Central Asia are the gandharvas, kinnaras, and
vidyadharas. The gandharvas usually occur singly or in pairs in
flight beside the nimbus of a major god, in whose
honor they bear garlands or strew flowers. Their female counterparts, who are usually to be seen dancing
or making music, are the apsaras, whose main function
is to entertain the gods.
The small, cloud-borne figure in this fragment of
wall painting is a gandharva. With a bowl full of blossoms in his hands he flies toward the Buddha, whose seated figure would have appeared below the large
parasol. Motion is suggested by the fluttering ends of
the scarf and the long robe billowing out behind him.
(For a painting on silk with a similar subject, see No. 124.)
The Berlin paintings in the Buddhist Chinese style
come mostly from the Turfan oasis, though some caves
with paintings of this type have been discovered in
other complexes further to the west, primarily in Kumtura. Interestingly enough, none has been found in
This is the first of a group of murals (Nos. 59-64)
from the four Kumtura caves that were painted entirely
in the Buddhist Chinese style. That this is a distinct
style is evident in every respect. Whereas the IndoIranian school, especially in its later stages, tended to
produce stereotyped works with recurring motifs, here
we have a freer, more casual brush technique which
gives greater scope to individual forms of expression.
The gamut of colors, too, ranging from soft pastel
shades via deep red and radiant yellow to dark green,
is unknown in the Indo-Iranian styles.
Left: Painting on wood, 9x16 cm. Yarkhoto, 8th-9th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7403)
Right: Wall painting, 22.7 x 18.0 cm. Kizil, Prayer- Wheel Cave, 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 9233)
Left: This fragment of a wooden vessel (an urn?) with yellowish white priming shows the remains of a painting
of a divine musician. Still intact are the head and part
of the chest and arms. Around the shoulders the figure
wears a billowing green-and-brown scarf. The hair is
partly caught up at the back with a ribbon to which
an ornament is attached in front; a reddish brown
nimbus is visible behind the head. The skin of the face and body is delicately colored. The hands are lifted to hold a flute to the red, puckered lips.
In spite of its fragmentary nature, this is very fine example of painting on wood.
Right: The musical traditions at Kucha are mentioned in early
Chinese records: Chang Ch'ien, whom Emperor Wuti sent to the West in 138 B.C., is said to have brought
back musical instruments and melodies from Kucha
to the capital, Ch'ang-an (Liu Mau-tsai 1969).
Only the name of these melodies has come down to us: it
is Mo-ho-tou-le. Mo-ho is clearly the Chinese transcription
of maha (great) . As far as tou-le is concerned, the last word
still remains to be spoken; it is perhaps a variant of Tou-k'u-le, or Tochara. The name of this melody suggests an Indian
origin. Possibly this originally Indian melody was first
known at Kucha, where, as we know, Tocharian was spoken
in later days. It was the center of Indian-influenced music
in Central Asia, which later spread to China. At that early
date Kucha must already have been under Indian cultural
influence. In China, a son-in-law of Emperor Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.) wrote twenty-eight new tunes based on the Mo-ho-tou-le melody, which were played as military music. (Liu Mau-tsai 1969, p. 100)
Musical tradition in Kucha continued unbroken
throughout the centuries to follow. And when the Western Countries again fell under Chinese rule in
382, the General Protector, Lii Kuang, brought
groups of performers — actors, musicians, and dancers — back to China as booty. From then on this foreign music began to gain popularity with the Chinese.
Among the instruments used were the five-stringed
lute, the harp, the mouth-organ, drums, cymbals,
gongs, and the four-stringed Kucha lute. In China one
of the teachers of this lute was a brahman, to judge
by his surname a Sogdian. Another renowned lute player, Sujiva, who went to China in the year 568,
bore the family name of Po, of the royal house of
Kucha. He taught the seven keys of Kucha music,
which are often traced back to an Indian origin.
Thus it appears that together with Buddishm, Indian music was brought to Kucha, an inference that
is strengthened by the many musical subjects depicted
in the wall paintings.
This fragment shows the head of a dark-skinned
divinity playing a flute, and in front of him the remains
of a lute player. Originally they formed part of a scene
of the Buddha preaching.
This broad fragment of a silk painting depicts a gandharva floating aloft; four banks of clouds against a
blue background make it plain that the scene takes
place in midair. The celestial flower-strewer, his robe
and scarf streaming behind him in the wind, carries
in his right hand a bowl, out of which he has just
plucked a handful of flowers with his left. The long
billowing train of blue, pink, and green material, which
extends practically from one side of the fragment to
the other, appears to belong to a thin silken cloth
fastened to his hair.
Chitrasena fights with Arjuna.
Chitrasena fights with Arjuna. Chitrasena, a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata, was a Gandharva king who taught song and dance to Arjuna. He used to reside in Indra's palace along with his fellow Gandharvas and Apsaras. He also routed the army of Duryodana in a battle that took place before the Kurukshetra War.
Painting of the heavenly musician Tumbara, on laid European paper watermarked with the date '1816'
"He is horse-headed and wears a magnificent angavastram of scarlet stuff decorated with a floral design. He is shown crowned, with two arms and holding a vina". (Wikimedia) In Hindu mythology, Tumburu is the best among Gandharvas or celestial musician and is sometimes described as the best of singers. He is described to perform in the courts of gods Kubera and Indra as well as sing praises of god Vishnu. He leads the Gandharvas in their singing. (Wikipedia)
Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life. The divine musician Tumburu. He is horse-headed, with a green complexion and is shown crowned, with two arms. He holds a type of vina over his left shoulder. Tumburu, shown wearing lavish textiles, is associated with Narada, another other divine musician, who is typically shown dressed in the attire of an ascetic. (The British Museum)
Rama and Lakshmana about to sever Kabandha's arms.
Left: Rama and Lakshmana seated on Kabandha's arms, about to sever them.
Kabandha is depicted with a big mouth on his stomach and no head or neck; though depicted with two eyes, the Ramayana describes him as one-eyed. (Painting on ceiling of temple in Ayodhyapattinam near Salem, probably 16th-century.)
Middle: Rama (left) and Lakshamana seated on the arms of Kabandha, about to sever his arms, 19th-century painting from Tiruchchirappalli. "The 'rakshasa' (demon) Kabandha supporting the brothers Rama and Lakshmana on his arms. The demon is dark-brown and squats with outstretched arms, on which Rama and Lakshmana sit facing each other, brandishing their swords. Rama is green and Lakshmana is golden."
Right: The exiled princes Rama and Lakshamana were caught by Kabandha, whose arms they severed.
Kabandha was a gandharva (celestial musician) named Vishvavasu or Danu, who was cursed and made into an ugly, carnivorous demon by Indra, the king of the gods, and/or a sage. In an encounter with Rama and Lakshmana, the brothers sever his arms and proceed to cremate his corpse. Upon his death, Kabandha resumes his gandharva form and directs Rama to the Rsyamukha mountain, where the exiled monkey-chief Sugriva is hiding. Kabandha advises Rama to form an alliance with Sugriva, who would be of assistance in the search for Rama's wife Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka. Following Kabandha's instructions, Rama befriends Sugriva and rescues Sita with his help.
One of the five paintings of "Extermination of Evil" portrays Sendan Kendatsuba banishing evil.
Part of the set of five 12th Century Japanese hanging scrolls "Extermination of Evil" depicting benevolent deities who expel demons of plague. Here Sendan Kendatsuba is depicted in human guise hoisting the heads of evil animals and demons on a trident.
Tilottama (Sanskrit: तिलोत्तमा, Tilottamā) is an Apsara (celestial nymph) described in Hindu mythology. "Tila" is the Sanskrit word for 'sesame seed' and "uttama" means better or higher. Tilottama, therefore, was the name given to one whose smallest particles are composed of the finest and highest qualities.
In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Tilottama is described to have been created by the divine architect Vishwakarma, at Brahma's request. She was responsible for bringing about the mutual destruction of the Asuras (demons), Sunda and Upasunda.
Tilottama was such an attractive nymph that even Lord Shiva and Indra became enamoured of her. In Adi Parva, it is described that Shiva (Sthanu) became so desirous of seeing her that as she circumambulated him, he grew heads on both of his sides and another on the back of his head, so he could see her constantly. Lord Indra developed a thousand red eyes on his body with which to see her. Employing her great charm and beauty, Tilottama eventually brought about the mutual destruction of the asuras, Sunda and Upasunda. (Read the story of Sunda-Upasunda below.)
An asura (Sanskrit/Pali: असुर, असुरो; Chinese: 阿修羅) in Buddhism is the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu. Some of them are Demons.
Asura Demons holding up the Buhdda on top of the mountian.
A mythological character from the great epic Ramayana, Sunda was an asura prince and the brother of Upasunda. Their father was Jambha. The brothers grew up to be very powerful and were always of one mind. Together, they embarked on a campaign of world domination that began with a program of extreme asceticism in the mountains. Their asceticism generated such extreme heat that the gods themselves became exceedingly alarmed. Unsuccessfully, the gods attempted to distract the brothers through the enticement of maidens and by means of disturbing illusions of rampaging Rakshasas.
Finally, Brahma agreed to grant the brothers a boon, on condition that they desist from their asceticism. The brothers agreed to the condition, and received the boon of being completely invulnerable, except that they could be killed by each other.
Leaving the mountains, Sunda and Upasunda returned home, mustered an army, and proceeded to conquer and to devastate the entire world. They even drove the gods from their celestial abode.
Finally, Brahma was again moved to action. He asked Vishvakarma to create the beautiful apsara Tilottama and ordered her to cause dissent between the brothers. Tilottama found Sunda and Upasunda in the countryside with their retinue, drinking and celebrating their victories. Beholding Tilottama, they immediately fell to fighting over her, and ended up killing each other. Thus was the world order reestablished.
Sunda and rakshashi Thataka were parents of famous asuras Maricha and Subahu.
The fight between the asura brothers Sunda and Upasunda over the apsaras Tilottamā
The fronton, pediment of Banteay Srei templer, Siem Reap province, Cambodia, representing the fight between the asura brothers Sunda and Upasunda over the apsaras Tilottamā. It is located in the Musée Guimet, Paris.
Krishna on Garuda Indonesia (Java)
Period: Central Javanese period, Date: second half of the 9th century
Bronze Sculpture, H. 15 7/16 in. (39.2 cm)
Garuda, the Hindu god who is part man and part bird, symbolizes the power of the sun and is known for slaying evil serpents. In art he usually appears as the mount or vehicle of Vishnu. Here Garuda carries Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who not only has borrowed Vishnu's mount but also holds his war discus (chakra). He stands energetically astride Garuda's head and shoulders, and with the index finger of his open left hand makes a warning gesture. Legend tells us that on many occasions Krishna rode out on the back of Garuda to do battle. In a tale well known to the Javanese, Garuda stole the elixir of immortality from the gods, who had thought it was well protected by two poisonous serpents from the realm of the gods. Here he holds the two defunct serpents—the head of one is missing—and balances the elixir in a jar on his head. The folded position of Garuda's legs suggests that he is rising in flight. His short wings beat the air, and his long tail streams behind him in openwork loops. The curves and lively projections of all the other shapes and details of this bronze make the figures appear to be charging through space.
This ensemble was part of a hanging oil lamp. Above Krishna's head is a lotus pattern to which a chain for suspension was attached, and beneath Garuda is a loop from which a cup for lamp oil would have hung. The lighted lamp would cast shadows of the god and his vehicle.
Wood, height 1.9 inches. Eighteenth century.
Signed on inside plaque: Tori (literally, "bird").
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910)
In the Museum's collection are six masks of
netsuke size which have no cord openings
and are thus unwearable. They may have
been made as a presentation set, or they may
have served as models for netsuke carvers or
been used as finger puppets. These pieces,
which present masks of ancient dance-dramas
in a small format, are of exceptional quality.
The most interesting and complex example
is that depicting the Garuda. This sacred bird,
which ate poisonous snakes, came from ancient
Indian mythology and entered the Buddhist
pantheon as a guardian of Buddha.
Gigaku masks of this creature dating from
as early as the eighth century still exist, and
the dance form associated with this mask was
as lively and nimble as the face of the netsuke.
One test of a truly great mask was the
placement of the eyes. The eye sockets had
to be of equal size and shape with the pupils
correctly positioned. This example is superb,
and if it were larger, it could have been used
by a performer, for its contours follow those
of a human face.
Kinnara (Kinnorn), male counterpart of a Kinaree (Kinaree or Ginnaree).
A statute of Kinnara at Wat Phra Kaeo. It is located in Phra Nakhon District, the historic centre of Bangkok, within the precincts of the Grand Palace.
Kinnari and Kinnara
One of Buddha's and Yasodhara's past lives together as Kinnari and Kinnara.
Shan peacock (kinnari and kinnara) dance
Shan peacock (kinnari and kinnara) dance
The Shan (Burmese: ရှမ်းလူမျိုး; [ʃán lùmjó]; Thai: ไทใหญ่ or ฉาน; Chinese: 掸族 or 傣族;) are a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia. The Shan live primarily in the Shan State of Burma (Myanmar), but also inhabit parts of Mandalay Region, Kachin State, and Kayin State, and in adjacent regions of China, Laos and Thailand.
Hanging Lamp in the Form of a Kinnari
Hanging Lamp in the Form of a Kinnari Indonesia (Java)
Period: Central Javanese period, Date: second half of the 9th–early 10th century
Bronze Sculpture, H. 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm); W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm); L. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)
Of all non-human heavenly beings, the Magoraka are the most vague. In some Chinese dictionaries they are defined as “serpents who walk on their breasts.”
In other representations, they are serpentine musicians. They belonged originally to the Brahmanic pantheon, and in Buddhism were partly assimilated by the dragon.