King of the Underworld Enma (Enma Daiō)


Anonymous - King of the Underworld Enma (Enma Daiō)
Enma is the main figure among “the ten kings of Buddhism” (jū-ō) who judge peoples’ deeds at the threshold of the underworld. These kings usually have frightening faces and are clad in Chinese garments and gowns in line with Chinese iconography. The bottom of our statue, joined together from several pieces of wood, bears the inscription “King of the Underworld, Enma (Enma dai-ō)”. The title “great king” (dai-ō) suggests that Enma (like Yama in India) was seen as the ultimate master of the underworld in Japan. He is usually depicted as a furious bearded old man with a wild look and a judge’s hat. The right hand, which is missing on our statue, originally held a judge’s sceptre.
measurements: height 35 cm
in collections:
material: Wood with fragments of polychrome paint and gilding
inventory number: Vp 77
gallery collection: Collection of Asian and African Art