Shoumen Kongou 青面金剛
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Also known as Seishoku Daikongou Yasha 青色大金剛薬叉. A deity who protects against diseases believed to be caused by demons. Shoumen Kongou is one of the raksasa lords and rules the east. In Buddhist texts he is sometimes said to have been a demon who originally caused disease but who was then conquered and re-dedicated himself as a protector against disease. Shoumen Kongou often appears as an angry deity with a blue body and four arms. He carries a three pronged vajra *kongousho 金剛杵 in his upper right hand, a staff *shakujou 錫杖 in his lower right hand, a cakra rinpou 輪宝 in his upper left hand, and a noose in his lower left hand. These various implements are symbolic within Esoteric Buddhism. He may also be shown with two arms, six arms, or in other forms . He may be accompanied by two boys *douji 童子 or by four demons. The benefits to be obtained by worshipping Shoumen Kongou closely resembled those of worshipping koushin 庚申 (also read kanoe-saru, the fifth monkey day of the Chinese calendar). Since the Kamakura period Shoumen Kongou, being mixed with Taoism, became a deity of the cult of koushin. This cult believed that on the eve of fifth monkey day it was particularly easy to have your life shortened. In order to counteract this danger believers stayed awake through the night and on the koushin day gathered before scrolls of Shoumen Kongou and Sarutahiko 猿田彦 to hold a devotional celebration. They also held festivities before carvings of the set of three monkeys, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru 見ざる, 聞かざる, 言わざる, who are believed to be related to the sacred monkey of Hie Jinja 日吉神社, Shiga prefecture.


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