godai myouou 五大明王
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also sometimes called godaison 五大尊. Lit. five great *myouou 明王. Myouou is a translation of the Sanskrit vidyaraja, king of those who hold knowledge. The knowledge held is contained in the darani 陀羅尼, which are powerful mystic formulae the recital of which will afford protection to the user, and the mantras, Shingon 真言 which in Sanskrit means True words and which to Buddhists are a distillation of the Buddhist truth. The godai myouou is a group of five fierce deities that correspond to the five directions. *Fudou Myouou 不動明王 is in the center, surrounded by *Gouzanze Myouou 降三世明王 in the east, *Gundari Myouou 軍荼利明王 in the south, *Daiitoku Myouou 大威徳明王 in the west, and *Kongouyasha Myouou 金剛夜叉明王 in the north. In Tendai 天台 esotericism taimitsu 台密, *Ususama Myouou 烏枢沙摩明王 may replace Kongouyasha Myouou. The godai myouou are closely related to the *godairiki bosatsu 五大力菩薩. In the NINNOU GOKOKU HANNYA HARAMITTAKYOU 仁王護国般若波羅蜜多経 (also known as SHIN'YAKU NINNOUGYOU 新訳仁王経) translated by Bukong (Jp: Fukuu 不空, Sk:Amoghavajra, 705-774) the godairiki bosatsu of the older translation KYUUYAKU NINNOUGYOU 旧訳仁王経 made by Kumarajiva (Jp: Kumarajuu 鳩摩羅什) are replaced by the five bodhisattvas of the five directions. These are *Dainichi 大日 in the center, *Ashuku 阿しゅく in the east, Houshou 宝生 in the south, *Amida 阿弥陀 in the west and Fukuu jouju 不空成就 in the north. In the NINNOUKYOU HANNYA HARAMITTA NENJU GIKI 仁王般若波羅蜜多念誦儀軌 (NINNOU NENJU GIKI 仁王念誦儀軌), also translated by Amoghavajra, the description of the mandala *mandara 曼荼羅 of the NINNOUGYOUHOU 仁王経法 (see *Ninnougyou mandara 仁王経曼荼羅) and the directions for the ritual show that the five bodhisattvas have fierce forms *funnusou 忿怒相 and thus they are equivalent to the five fierce deities or the godai myouou. The only Chinese illustration of the godai myouou appears on a Tang vajra-bell godai myouou gokorei 五大明王五鈷鈴, a ritual implement now in the Tokyo National Museum. The first appearance of the godai myouou in Japan was in the sculptural group of 21 figures in the *Koudou 講堂 of Touji 東寺 (Kyouougokokuji 教王護国寺) in Kyoto, finished in 839, four years after *Kuukai's 空海 death. This sculptural expression of the sutra NINNOUGYOU 仁王経, comprised three sets of five deities: the Five Buddas gobutsu 五仏; jishourinjin 自性輪身, the Five Bodhisattvas gobosatsu 五菩薩; shoubourinjin 正法輪身 and the five myouou kyouryourinjin 教令輪身. They are accompanied by the Four Guardian Kings *shitennou 四天王, *Taishakuten 帝釈天 and *Bonten 梵天. A fire destroyed the original images of the Five Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but the five great myouou have survived with some repair. Paintings of the godai myouou were made for the goshichinichi-no-mishuhou 五七日御修法, a ceremony held yearly in the Shingon-in 真言院 of the imperial palace from the early Heian period to intercede for the safety of the person of the emperor , the protection of the nation, and other benefits. The paintings and other art and ritual objects were brought from Toji, where they were stored. Sculptures were made as principal image *honzon 本尊 for the the ritual godanhou 五壇法, first celebrated in 961 on Mt. Hiei 比叡 and celebrated for the first time in the palace in 1065. Special halls, called *godaidou 五大堂, were built to enshrine the godai myouou and accommodate the ceremony. The godanhou was celebrated by five officiants performing goma 護摩, a fire ceremony, for each of the five deities. With the shift in power from the imperial family to the Fujiwara 藤原 aristocracy in the mid-Heian period, the focus of the ritual appears to have changed from public issues, such as national security, to more personal concerns, such as harmony and prosperity. Both the imperial family and aristocrats came individually to propitiate Fudou and the godai myouou for quelling demons, healing and safe childbirth. Besides the Toji Koudou sculptures, famous images of the godai myouou include 9c sculptures Daigoji 醍醐寺, Kyoto, and the 12c sculpture of Futaiji 不退寺 in Nara. Paintings include the 1090 set of Kiburuji 来振寺 in Gifu prefecture, the 1127 set in Touji, and the Kamakura period set in Daigoji.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.