Shinra Myoujin 新羅明神
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also read Shiragi Myoujin and Shinra Zenjin 新羅善神. The deity that protects Miidera 三井寺 (Onjouji 園城寺) at the Eastern foot of Mt Hiei 比叡 in Shiga prefecture. Legend has it that when when Enchin 円珍 (814- 91), the founder of Miidera, returned from from China where he had been studying Buddhism, an old man appeared in his boat and said, "I am Shinra Myoujin," and promised to protect the Buddhist Dharma for Enchin. Thus, Shinra Myoujin was enshrined as the protective deity of Miidera. The best known image of the deity is the sculpture in the Shinra Zenjindou 新羅善神堂 in the precincts of Miidera in which he appears seated, wearing court robes and an unusual crown which has three points, in the traditional shape of a mountain. He also sports a long pointed beard. Shinra Myoujin's Chinese origin is emphasized when he is represented in the guise of a Chinese official, as he is in a painting owned by Miidera. In this work he is seated on a chair, holding a scroll and a staff *shakujou 錫杖, accompanied by two young male attendants *douji 童子, whose names are Shukuou 宿王 and Hannya 般若. Also present is Hi-no-miko 日の御子, the protective deity of the earth jinushigami 地主神.


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