Shingon Buddhism -- esoteric Buddhism brought to Japan from China during the early ninth century -- inspired a new spiritual energy that found expression in varied forms, especially in art and iconography. A radical change occurred with the introduction of new deities, among them the Five Great Kings, the most important of them being Fudo Myo-o, the conqueror of all disasters and evil. This book is a study of the concept, iconography and decoction of Fudo in art.
Beginning with a detailed account of the origin of Buddhism and its introduction into Japan, the book focuses on development of esoteric Buddhism in the country. It delves into the uniqueness of Shingon Buddhism rituals which try to evoke the vitality of the three mysteries in the body, speech and thought, the mysteries being transmitted orally from the master to the disciple. Describing Fudo Myo-o as discussed in Buddhist literary sources from India, it takes up his visual representation in painting and sculpture. It discusses the representation of his attendants in art and iconography, symbolic instruments associated with the god in his depiction and interpretations of the mudras (hand gestures, postures, emblems) carried by Fudo. It explains the esoteric meaning attached to various ideas and concepts represented in the visual images.
Supported by numerous illustrations, this detailed and thorough study would enthral students and scholars of Buddhist art and iconography.