“Gozu Tenno”
府中 彫剛 “牛頭天王”


歌川国輝の浮世絵『本朝英雄伝 牛頭天皇(天王)』を下敷きとし、手間を惜しまず丁寧な仕事で完成させた府中 彫剛氏による豪壮なフロントピース。タイトルで言及されているのは牛頭天王であるが、龍(八岐大蛇)との対峙、また稲田姫(櫛名田比売/奇稲田姫とも)の存在から、神仏習合により牛頭天王と同一視されるようになった素盞嗚尊について描かれていると見るのが妥当であろう。


Based on Utagawa Kuniteru’s ukiyo-e “Honcho Eiyu Den: Gozu Tenno”, this magnificent front piece by Fuchu Horigou was completed with careful and painstaking work. The title refers to Gozu Tenno, but the confrontation with the dragon (Yamata-no-orochi) and the presence of Inada-hime (a.k.a. Kushinada-hime) suggest that the story is about Susanoo-no-mikoto, who has been considered to be the same as Gozu Tenno due to the syncretism.

In any case, this is a masterpiece that beautifully expresses the majesty and power of a raging divinity. There was a kora-bori (carapace style irezumi) done by another tattooer, so the dragon and others are composed in a powerful way while avoiding it.

牛頭天王の本来の容貌はその名の通り、赤い角を生やした牛頭の巨躯として古書に記されている。貧しいながらも己を歓待した者にあらゆる願いが叶う宝玉を授けた一方で、邪険に扱った富豪はその眷属五千余りを含め、皆蹴り殺したと伝えられている。こうした荒ぶる神としての共通性が素盞嗚尊との習合を促したのであろう。牛頭天王は京都 八坂神社の祭神であり、疫病を司り、鎮め退散させる力を持つ。

As the name suggests, the appearance of Gozu Tenno is described in an ancient book as a huge bull-headed human figure with red horns. It is said that he bestowed a jewel that would grant any wishes to the man who gave him a hearty welcome, despite his poverty, but on the other hand he kicked to death the wealthy man and more than 5,000 of his family and relations who treated him badly. This commonality as a raging deity may have merged him and Susanowo-no-mikoto. Gozu Tenno is the deity of Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, and has the power to control, calm and dispel epidemics.

※府中 彫剛氏のインタビュー記事はこちらから
※See Fuchu Horigou’s interview here
And see more of his works on Instagram

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