Images of Bishamonten


This work is a print of Buddhist images called syubutu or inbutsu. The print was originally placed in the internal cavity of a wooden standing statue of Bishamonten, considered a protector of the teachings of the Buddha. This particular Bishamonten was housed in a statue at the Yamato Nakagawa Temple, which prospered in the late Heian period as a branch of Kōfukuji Temple in Nara. The print has seven Bishamonten impressions, four on the upper part of the page and three on the lower part, each approximately 17 centimeters tall. They stand on bases made of rocks, with swords in their right hands and miniature stupas on their left palms. An annotation on the back of the print dates it to the year 1162, making this the oldest extant print of Buddhist images bearing the year of production. The work is also an important document for the study of print culture in the Heian period (794-1185) and the Kamakura period (1192–1333).

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language


Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 scroll, 42.5 centimeters in length

Last updated: November 7, 2011