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Benzaiten@•ÙË“V
KEY WORD :@art history / iconography
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Also written áAà“V. Sk: Sarasvati. A Buddhist goddess of music, learning, eloquence, wealth, longevity, and protection from natural disasters. Among her many variant names are Daibenzaiten ‘å•ÙË“V, Myouonten –­‰¹“V, Bionten ”ü‰¹“V, and, most common, Benten •Ù“V. A river goddess in Indian mythology, she was adopted into the Buddhist and then Shinto pantheons. This origin helps to explain why many Japanese temples and shrines dedicated to Benzaiten (including those at Itsukushima Œµ“‡, Enoshima ]ƒm“‡, and Chikubushima ’|¶“‡) are located near water. As described in the KONKOUMYOU SAISHOUOUKYOU ‹àŒõ–¾ÅŸ‰¤Œo (translated into Chinese by Yijing ‹`ò in 7c), Benzaiten has eight arms with hands that hold a bow, arrow, sword, ax, spear, long pestle, iron wheel, and silk rope. The earliest Japanese example, an 8c sculpture at the *Hokkedou –@‰Ø“° (Sangatsudou ŽOŒŽ“°) of Toudaiji “Œ‘厛 is of this type. In another form, Benzaiten is represented as a plump woman dressed in a flowing Chinese style gown and holding a four-stringed lute, biwa ”ú”i. This iconic type first became popular in the 13c, a well-known example being the sculpture with wood body dressed in silk robes at Tsurugaoka Hachimanguu ’߉ª”ª”¦‹{ in Kanagawa prefecture. She is sometimes depicted seated on a white serpent. In Esoteric Buddhism mikkyou –§‹³ Benzaiten was associated with fifteen sons or disciples, juugo douji \ŒÜ“¶Žq. They are: Aigyou ˆ¤Œh, Han‚‡i ”ÑŸC, Hikken •MŒ¥, Gyuuba ‹”n, In'yaku ˆóèo, Juusha ]ŽÒ, Toshou “l¡, Ishou ˆß‘•, Kantai Š¯‘Ñ, San'you Ž\—{, Sensha ‘DŽÔ, Shusen Žðò, Shoumyou ¶–½, Touchuu âj–à, and Konzai ‹àà. In the Muromachi period, Benzaiten was grouped within the seven gods of good fortune *shichifukujin Žµ•Ÿ_. Through this association, during the Edo period her popularity grew with the merchant and urban classes, and new temples and shrines were dedicated to her. Benzaiten is often confused with *Kichijouten ‹gË“V.
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(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System.@No reproduction or republication without written permission.
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