The Deity of Kasuga Wakamiya Shrine

Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, 14th century
Ink, color, and gold on silk
H x W (image): 85.7 × 40 cm (33 3/4 × 15 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Japan, kakemono, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), shrine
Provenance research underway.

The Shinto god of the Wakamiya shrine, located south of the main buildings of the Kasuga grand complex in Nara, is portrayed here as a young nobleman dressed in a green robe embellished with delicate gold patterns. He stands on a rocky plateau, which suggests the earthly site where his spirit resides. The gods (kami) of Shinto, Japan's native religion, are often worshiped as unseen spirits who reside in specific places. Beginning in the thirteenth century, however, there was an increase in production of paintings of Shinto deities due to the promotion of ideas linking specific kami with Buddhist deities, which had a long tradition of pictorial or sculptural representation. Shinto gods were closely bound to human life and in some cases were actually the deified spirits of deceased individuals. Artistic representations, although imagined, usually portrayed Shinto deities with human features and minimal visual references to their supernatural identities.

Published References
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 107.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 17, vol. 2: p. 157.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 105.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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