Reproduction of the Standing Figure of Shūkongōjin [Skt. Vajrapani] Belonging to the Hokkedō [Lotus Hall] of Tōdaiji Temple in Nara Prefecture, Recreating its Original Appearance. Part of the Project to Reproduce the Standing Figure of Shūkongōjin Belonging to the Hokkedō [Lotus Hall] of Tōdaiji Temple
Sculptor: Shigematsu Yūshi. Color: Inuma Haruko and project staff (2019)
The original statue was modeled from clay approximately 1,300 years ago during the mid-Nara period and was ordinarily hidden from view, to be presented to the public for only one day every year. Of all the works that resulted from the culture that was transmitted to Japan along the Silk Road, this one is particularly outstanding.
This reproduction was created as part of a doctorate course, the original statue being faithfully reproduced in clay, then the original coloring reproduced based on careful scientific research. The reproduction coloring was made possible through crowd funding for the ‘Project to Reproduce the Standing Figure of Shūkongōjin [Skt. Vajrapani] Belonging to the Hokkedō [Lotus Hall] of Tōdaiji Temple’.
During the process of reproducing the clay statue, it was discovered that the original sculptor had made alterations to the wood-core in order to provide the finished work with a more dynamic sense of movement. Clay is a material that offers the artist a high degree of freedom, and it is clear that this was the work of an outstanding sculptor who succeeded in realizing his vision. With regard to the coloring, great pains were taken to restore the original designs that had disappeared over time, the purple color being recreated through reference to ancient Chinese records.
When this statue was originally created, only a very limited number of people were able to see it, but I am sure that its vivid appearance cannot have failed to make a powerful impression on them. We hope that you will be able to experience this sight as it was first seen by the people of the Nara Court, 1300 years ago.