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Suiten (Skt., Varuna)
National treasure
Hanging scroll
(Some of the works of theTwelve Devas)
Height: 144.0cm Width: 127.0cm
Kyoto National Museum
Suiten (“water deva”) is one of the Twelve Devas that were produced in 1127 (Daiji 2) for the annual New Year’s ceremony of esoteric prayers that was held in the Shingon-in Hall at the Imperial Palace from the Heian period (794-1185). They were formerly owned by Kyoogokoku-ji (To-ji) Temple.
The deity gracefully emerges from the dark background like a fair-figured water spirit, clothed in softly colored, finely decorated garments. His knee area is highlighted with white gradations and decorated with delicate, finely detailed kirikane (cut-gold foil) pattern. Such refined decorative techniques are characteristic of a work from the golden age of Buddhist paintings in Japan.