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Koma-Inu (Mouth Closed); One of Pair

Asian Art

Koma-inu, usually pairs of lionlike guardian creatures found at the entrance to Shinto shrines, function as protectors of the sacred precincts. The use of lionlike guardians was imported from China via Korea and ultimately from further west in Asia. They normally sit with straight forelegs. Like the Nio ("Benevolent Kings") figures that guard the gates of Buddhist temples, the one on the right, Agyo, has its mouth open, while the one the left, Ungyo, has its mouth closed, gestures associated with the first and last letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, a and um. Although not present in this figure, often the beast on the left has a single horn in the center of its head. Once covered with brilliant color, the pigment has now largely worn away, revealing the full strength and beauty of the carved wood beneath.

MEDIUM Hinoki (cypress wood) with traces of polychrome
DATES Early 13th century
PERIOD Kamakura period
DIMENSIONS 21 x 11 1/4 in. (53.3 x 28.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Asian Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 85.171.2
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Milton F. Rosenthal and Dr. and Mrs. Robert Feinberg, A. Augustus Healy Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, and Designated Purchase Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Koma-Inu (Mouth Closed); One of Pair, Early 13th century. Hinoki (cypress wood) with traces of polychrome, 21 x 11 1/4 in. (53.3 x 28.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Milton F. Rosenthal and Dr. and Mrs. Robert Feinberg, A. Augustus Healy Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, and Designated Purchase Fund, 85.171.2. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 85.171.1_85.171.2_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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RECORD COMPLETENESS Good (68%)
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