Kujaku Myo Maha-Mayuri (Backcover Symbology).

Author:Merchant, Vasant

KUJAKU MYO MAHA-MAYURI (Backcover Symbology)

This is the finest existing example of a painting showing the Buddhist god Kujaku Myo-0 (Peacock King) devouring of serpents and conqueror of evil. The Mahamayuri came to Japan from India, the Sanskrit word "maha" meaning great and "mayuri" meaning peacock--i.e. the great peacock. Belief in Kujaku Myo-o existed in Japan as early as the Nara period (7th-8th centuries), the original influences coming from India. In the Heian period (9th-12th centuries) he was frequently worshipped at the Kujaku-Myo-o rituals, which involved supplications for the termination of various natural calamities, famines, and pestilences. His image was painted in numbers for use at these rituals.

The painting shows the four armed god facing the front, seated on the back of the peacock. He holds in his first right hand an open lotus flower, and in the second, a citron. One left hand is raised at his breast and holds a pomegranate, and in the other is a peacock's feather. There are flower vases at the four corners. The symbolic composition is well balanced, and the coloring, which is a deft combination of the faces of light, graceful colors, is successful in creating a quiet but decorative effect. The cinnabar reed, lend malachite green, azurite blue and other colors, with their soft warm tones, and the time, decorative patterns in elaborate kirikane (applied threadlike thin strips of gold leaf), have created a remarkable bright color design, although it cannot be denied that there is a touch of sober, melancholy feeling, perhaps an inevitable reflection of the declining aristocratic Heian Age.

Kujaku-Myo-Mahamayuri symbolizes the power of light over darkness, good over evil, disease, and victory over death. The original symbols and their meanings were mentioned in one of the treatises of the...

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