douji 童子
KEY WORD : art history / iconography, sculptures
Lit. child, young boy.

1 A boy between 8 and 20 years old living in a Buddhist temple. He studies the sutras and performs various errands as part of his training to become a monk.

2 Boy attendants to Buddhist deities like *Fudou Myouou 不動明王 and *Monju 文殊. Fudou Myouou for example, has as many as 36 boy attendants, of whom 8 are called the *hachidai douji 八大童子. The best known are *Kongara douji 矜羯羅童子 and *Seitaka douji 制た迦童子, often portrayed beside Fudou hey can be seen in the early 14c scrolls by Takuma Chouga 詫磨長賀 in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

3 A noh mask *noumen 能面 representing a young boy with the fairy-like quality of eternal youth. The smooth, oval face, arched eyebrows, and lack of lower teeth all contribute to an overall impression of gentle good-naturedness. Douji is very similar in form to the mask *jidou 慈童, being distinguished primarily by a somewhat narrower breadth, more arched eyebrows, and lack of dimples on the cheeks. Traditionally used by all schools but Kanze 観世 (which uses jidou) in such plays as MAKURAJIDOU 枕慈童 and KIKUJIDOU 菊慈童, where the main character celebrates an auspicious imperial reign by presenting water from the Fountain of Youth to the emperor's messenger. Other uses for douji include the first acts of IWAFUNE 岩船, TAMURA 田村, KOKAJI 小鍛冶, and other plays where the innocent features conceal a benign supernatural agent. The Kongou 金剛 school model mask, honmen 本面 now owned by the Mitsuii 三井 family, is a fine Momoyama period example with an inscription by the 17c carver Deme Genkyuu 出目元休 attributing it (probably erroneously) to the 15c carver Chigusa 千種. The expert copier Deme Yuukan Mitsuyasu 出目友閑満康 (d. 1652) also made fine examples. Variations include douji with a black rim across the forehead instead of thin bangs called kanmurigata douji 冠形童子. In addition, for such plays as OOEYAMA 大江山 where douji later turns out to be a demon, a more rakish mask, shitadashi douji 舌出し童子, is used. It has a small forehead, high cheek bones and leering smile exposing a bit of the tongue. Another variant is juuroku douji 十六童子.


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