juuniten 十二天
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Twelve Deities. A group of tutelary deities consisting of various Hindu gods, which was incorporated into Esoteric Buddhism mikkyou 密教 and came to supplant the Four Heavenly Kings *shitennou 四天王 as protectors of Buddhism. Considered to exercise control over all minor gods and demons, they evolved from the guardian deities of the four cardinal and four intermediary directions happouten 八方天; (1)-(8), to which were added first the gods of heaven and earth; (9)-(10), resulting in Ten Deities jitten 十天, and then the sun and moon ; (11)-(12). Their names are as follows: (1) *Taishakuten 帝釈天 (Sk: Indra/Sakra; east), (2) Katen 火天 (Fire, Sk: Agni; southeast ), (3) *Enmaten 焔魔天 (Sk: Yama; south), (4) Rasetsuten 羅刹天 (Sk: Nirrti/Nairrti; southwest), (5) Suiten 水天 (Water, Sk:Varuna; west), (6) Fuuten 風天 (Wind, Sk: Vayu; northwest), (7) *Bishamonten 毘沙門天 (Sk: Vaisravana; north), (8) Ishanaten 伊舎那天 (Sk: Isana; northeast), (9) *Bonten 梵天 (zenith, Sk: Brahman), (10) Jiten 地天 (Earth, nadir, Sk: Prthivi), (11) Nitten 日天 (Sun, Sk: Surya/Aditya) and (12) Gatten 月天 (Moon, Sk:Candra). In Japan, representations of these deities as a group are generally limited to the pictorial, and these depictions were used in various esoteric rites. In early examples ; (Saidaiji 西大寺, Nara, early Heian period) they are shown sitting on animals *choujuuza 鳥獣座 and later on rugs *kuyuza くゆ座 ; (Touji 東寺, Kyoto, now at the Kyoto National Museum), but from about the 12c onwards they came to be depicted standing in pairs on six-panelled folding screens called juuniten byoubu 十二天屏風. The oldest extant example of such a screen is that by Takuma Shouga 宅間勝賀 (fl.ca.1168-1209), dating from 1191 and preserved at Touji. This latter style is thought to have evolved from the practice of using masks representing the Twelve Deities, juuniten men 十二天面 in certain esoteric rites, and there are many extant examples. The juuniten appear together with their attendants in the Gekongoubu-in 外金剛部院 of the Matrix mandala *Taizoukai mandara 胎蔵界曼荼羅, and there is also a juuniten mandara 十二天曼荼羅, centred on a four-armed form of *Fudou Myouou 不動明王, a version of which serves as the *Anchin mandara 安鎮曼荼羅 in the Shingon 真言 sect.


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