“Kiryu Kannon”
天王寺 彫はる “騎龍観音”

手彫りならではの黒々とした龍の鱗と菩薩の纏う艶やかな白衣の対比が美しい、天王寺 彫はる氏による騎龍観音のバックピース。額を伴わない抜き彫りながら、背面を広く密に使う構図とすることで見る者を圧倒する迫力を生み出している。

The back piece of Kiryu Kannon by Tennoji Horiharu, with the beautiful contrast between the heavy black scales of the dragon and the elegant white robe worn by Bodhisattva, which only hand poking can achieve. Although it is a nuki-bori without gaku, the composition widely and densely uses the area of the back to create a powerful effect that overwhelms the viewer.

From deep packing to smooth shading with no borders, the beautiful color is proof of minimal skin damage. The careful working manner of Horiharu, who does not slight even a single poke, is evident here.
Kiryu (dragon riding) Kannon, also called Ryuzu (dragon head) Kannon, is one of the 33 forms of Kannon Bodhisattva who changes their appearance for the salvation of sentient beings. They are depicted riding a dragon in the clouds, and are said to use the dragon power to control water to bring merciful rain and abundant earthly blessings to the people.

As a side note, the irezumis of only subject without gaku are called nuki-bori, and those on the back are also called danna-bori because they were favored by the masters (danna) of merchant families in the Edo period.

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

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