“Karasu Tengu”
Harizanmai GOTCH
五打 “烏天狗”


一目でそれと分かる独創の和彫りで名を馳せる、京都 針三昧の五打氏による烏天狗の背中抜き彫り。天狗と聞けば鼻の高い赤ら顔を思い描くが、あれは中世以降に広まった姿であり、元来は半人半鳥で山伏の如き風体をした所謂、烏天狗が原点である。


This is a nuki-bori back piece of a karasu-tengu by Gotch of Harizanmai Kyoto, who is famous for his own style that can be recognized at a glance. The term tengu may remind you of a red face with a long nose but the image was what popularized in the Middle Ages, and actually karasu-tengu, a bird-man in yamabushi (mountain priest) figure, was the origin of tengu.

In the past, people living on the plains were awed by the mountain as an inhospitable other world. It is said that the tengu is a form given to the power of mountains that is beyond the reach of human knowledge. Therefore, its essence can be considered more like a deity rather than a yokai (Japanese monstros being). Some believe that tengu was syncretized with Karuraten (Garuda), one of the eight Buddhas who protects the Buddha Dharma.



On the abdomen, the indignant face of Kongoyasha-Myoo (Vajrayaksa), an oddly shaped Buddha with three faces, five eyes, and six arms, is depicted. It is somewhat reminiscent of Tibetan Buddhist paintings, but Gotch’s distinctive “jinjya tribal” elements are used throughout the work to create a uniqueness.

Kongoyasha-Myoo was an evil, man-eating deity, but thanks to Dainichi-Nyorai’s (Vairocana) benevolence, he awakened and became one of the Five Great Myoo, the protector deities of Buddhism. It is said that he crushes all evil by a kongosho (vajra), a Buddhist ritual implement, and was widely worshiped by samurai warriors as a Buddha to pray for victory in battle.

※See Gotch’s interview here
And see more of his work on Instagram

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