The Spirit Kings in Sixth Century Chinese Buddhist Sculpture

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<ul><li><p>The Spirit Kings in Sixth Century Chinese Buddhist SculptureAuthor(s): Emmy C. BunkerSource: Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America, Vol. 18 (1964), pp. 26-37Published by: University of Hawai'i Press for the Asia SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20067068 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 05:23</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>University of Hawai'i Press and Asia Society are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=uhphttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=asiasochttp://www.jstor.org/stable/20067068?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>The Spirit Kings in Sixth Century Chinese Buddhist Sculpture1 </p><p>Emmy C. Bunker </p><p>Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado </p><p>A group of curious looking male deities, at the most ten, usually referred to as the </p><p>"Spirit Kings," appears frequently in Buddhist Sculpture of the sixth century A.D. in China, but, oddly enough, no adequate study has ever been devoted to them. </p><p>The Spirit Kings were first noticed by Chavannes in an article2on the Eastern Wei stele of 543 in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, where they adorn two sides and the back of the base. The deities are identified by names inscribed alongside them and their own spe cial attributes. </p><p>Fig. 1. Drawing of Lung-men, Pin-yang Cave (Cave III), Fig. 2. Drawing of Lung-men, Pin-yang Cave (Cave III), fore wall, left side, (From Mizuno and Nagahiro, fore wall, right side, (From Mizuno and Nagahiro, Lung-men, Fig. 19). Lung-m?n, Fig. 18). </p><p>26 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Fig. 3. Side of the Gardner base, Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. </p><p>1. Dragon Spirit King.3 Has a dragon head, and holds a lotus in his hand. (Fig. 3) </p><p>2. Wind Spirit King. Holds a wind bag in his hands, and has windblown hair. (Fig. 3) </p><p>3. Pearl Spirit King. Spews pearls out of his mouth into a dish held in his right hand. </p><p>(Fig. 3) 4. Fire Spirit King.4 Flames issue from his head </p><p>and he holds a flaming torch or va)ra in his </p><p>right hand. (Fig. 4) 5. Tree Spirit King. Holds a tree in his right </p><p>hand. (Fig. 4) 6. Mountain Spirit King. Sits in front of styl </p><p>ized rocks which symbolize a mountain, and holds a flaming jewel. (Fig. 4) </p><p>7. Fish Spirit King.5 Wears a fish around his neck. (Fig. 4) </p><p>8. Elephant Spirit King. Has an animal head, and holds a lotus in his right hand and a </p><p>flaming jewel in his left. (Fig. 5 ) 9. Bird Spirit King. Has a bird head, and holds </p><p>a lotus in his right hand. (Fig. 5 ) 10. Lion Spirit King. Wears a lion-head helmet, </p><p>and holds a lotus in his left hand and a </p><p>flaming jewel in his right. (Fig. 5) </p><p>The bottom two characters, Sh?n Wang, in </p><p>each cartouche make up the title, which was </p><p>translated as Spirit King, the best equivalent for the Chinese characters. Sh?n means a spirit or a god.6 Wang means a prince or king, a ruler.7 </p><p>The first character in each cartouche denotes the individual Spirit King intended. </p><p>So little has ever been written about the Spirit Kings that it will be necessary to examine what ever material pertaining to them can be found before any definite conclusions can be drawn as to their origin, meaning, and position in the </p><p>Chinese Buddhist pantheon. </p><p>Fig. 5. Side of the base 543 A.D. Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. </p><p>Fig. 4. Reverse of the stele and base, 543 A.D. Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. </p><p>27 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Fig. 6. Side of the Eastern Wei base, Philadelphia, Uni </p><p>versity Museum. Fig. 7. Side of the Eastern Wei base, Philadelphia, Uni </p><p>versity Museum. </p><p>The earliest known series of the Spirit Kings appears on the base of the carved wall surface at Lung-m?n in the Pin-yang Cave, dated by the Japanese in the years following 505 A.D.8 </p><p>The deities have no inscribed titles, only their attributes to identify them.9 (Figs. 1 &amp; 2) From left to right, they are: </p><p>1. Wind Spirit King. Holds a large bag and has windblown hair. </p><p>2. Dragon Spirit King. Looks a dragon in the eye and wears his hair in an Indian topknot. </p><p>3. Lion Spirit King.10 Wears a lion-head hel </p><p>met, and holds a flaming jewel in his right hand. </p><p>4. Tree Spirit King. Has a tree behind him and holds a flaming jewel in his right hand. </p><p>5. Fish Spirit King.11 Holds a fish in his left hand. </p><p>6. Bird Spirit King. Has a bird head. 7. Elephant Spirit King. Has an elephant head </p><p>and holds the trunk with his right hand. 8. Fire Spirit King. Flames issue from his head, </p><p>and holds a flaming object in his right hand. 9. Pearl Spirit King. Spews pearls from his </p><p>mouth into his hand.12 </p><p>10. Mountain Spirit King. Holds a handful of rocks and trees which symbolize a mountain. </p><p>The Pin-yang Spirit Kings are clothed in a Chinese type of sleeved gown with a sash at the </p><p>waist. Some wear a collar caught at the shoulders </p><p>by two discs, as does the Bodhisattva in the Ma? </p><p>jusr? scene in the top register. The majority sit </p><p>in the position of 'royal ease',13 a typical Indian </p><p>position often given to Bodhisattvas and lesser </p><p>Buddhist deities, and are given no landscape or </p><p>architectural settings whatsoever. </p><p>Chavannes noted another group of Spirit Kings at the base of the carved wall surface in Cave 3 at the late Northern Wei site of Kung Hsien, dated around 531 A.D.14 Unfortunately he did not list them and only photographed three; the Fish, the Elephant, and the Bird Spirit Kings. In 1915, in connection with the Isabella Stewart </p><p>Gardner base, he recalled the Kung Hsien3 set </p><p>suggesting that both sets were identical as far as </p><p>he could remember. </p><p>The Kung Hsien costumes are still Chinese in character, but a bit different from those of the </p><p>Pin-yang deities. Each Spirit King is adorned with a scarf and a curved neckline with a pointed collar, frequently worn by Bodhisattvas. They sit cross-legged as do the musical gandharvas on </p><p>another part of the Kung Hsien wall base.15 </p><p>A four legged stone base16 of the Eastern Wei </p><p>period17 in the University Museum, Philadelphia, has six Spirit Kings carved on two of its sides. </p><p>(Figs. 6 Si 7) Although there are no inscriptions, they can be identified by their attributes. The Pearl Spirit King holds a dish full of pearls in his lap, the Tree Spirit King holds a tree, the </p><p>Mountain Spirit King a handful of rocks, the </p><p>28 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Wind Spirit King a bag, and the Elephant and Bird Spirit Kings have animal heads. </p><p>The type of costume worn by the deities on </p><p>both the University base and the Isabella Stewart Gardner base is identical, and consists of a scarf </p><p>and a loincloth, which leaves the belly and chest bare. Like the Lung-m?n deities, they wear cir </p><p>cular collars caught by discs at the shoulders. </p><p>The Spirit Kings on the Isabella Stewart Gardner base sit with crossed ankles, with the exception of the Mountain Spirit King, who sits with his feet out to the side in front of a pile of rocks. </p><p>The mountain deity on the University base sits in the same manner, but still holds his rocks in </p><p>his hand like his earlier Lung-m?n ancestor. </p><p>The Spirit Kings on the University base are sep- j^ arated by lotus flowers inserted between some of the deities, while those on the Isabella Stewart </p><p>Gardner base are separated only by the pendant inscriptions. </p><p>The Spirit Kings do not appear in any of the Northern Ch'i caves at T'ien-lung Shan, as far </p><p>as I know, but they do adorn the bases of several </p><p>Northern Ch'i stelae and can be found at the </p><p>late Northern Ch'i caves of Hsiang-t'ang Shan. A stele, excavated at Ch'ii-yang in Hopei pro </p><p>vince, dated Northern Ch'i by the Chinese, shows </p><p>four Spirit Kings on the bottom tier of an ex </p><p>tremely elaborate step pyramidal base. Presum </p><p>ably there are others on the opposite side of the </p><p>base. In spite of a poor photograph, the Elephant </p><p>Spirit King with his elephant head is visible to the right, and the Fish Spirit King with a fish around his neck on the left. It is almost impos sible to make out their costumes, but they ap </p><p>pear to wear loincloths and sit in the position of </p><p>'lordly ease.' </p><p>The base of a Northern Ch'i stele dated 56219 in the Cleveland Museum displays eight more </p><p>Spirit Kings on the back and two sides. (Figs. 8, 9, 10) Again with the help of their attributes, </p><p>we can identify the Mountain, Bird, Pearl, Tree, </p><p>Elephant, Fish and Wind Spirit Kings, plus one more whose identity is impossible to make out. </p><p>Another Spirit King group in the same style ap </p><p>pears on a Northern Ch'i base in the University Museum in Pennsylvania. (Fig. 11) The deities on both bases wear indentical costumes, which </p><p>consist of an upper garment with a curved </p><p>pointed collar, trousers, soft boots, and a scarf </p><p>that flares upwards like wings, except for the </p><p>Fish and Elephant deities whose scarves fall downwards. Some of the deities on the Cleve </p><p>ira </p><p>0?*% </p><p>J?L,,. </p><p>Fig. 8. Reverse of the Northern Ch'i base of 562 A.D., Cleveland, Cleveland Museum. </p><p>Fig. 9. Side of the Northern Ch'i base of 562 A.D., Cleve land, Cleveland Museum. </p><p>!Mr?? </p><p>?^y^j^j&amp;%k? </p><p>**%&amp;</p></li><li><p>F/?. 7i. 57?/? 0/ //?? Northern Ch'i base, Philadelphia, University Museum. </p><p>land base sit crosslegged, while others sit in the </p><p>attitude of 'lordly ease' as they do on the Uni </p><p>versity base. The Fish and Elephant deities sup port their trunk and fish head respectively with the palm of their hand. The Mountain deity on the Cleveland base is now completely integrated into his rocky setting, instead of sitting merely in front of it as his counterpart does on the </p><p>Gardner base. </p><p>The back of another Northern Ch'i stele20 dis plays four Spirit Kings, each placed in a separate </p><p>rectangular space. They wear the same trousers </p><p>and soft boots seen on the Cleveland base, but without the ornate necklines. The Wind Spirit King now appears to wear a long pointed cap. </p><p>A photograph of the original base (Fig. 12) for the Northern Ch'i stele of 569 A.D.21 in Kan sas City show a group of deities who wear trous ers and soft boots similar to those worn by the </p><p>Cleveland Spirit Kings. The deity on the far left of the base holds a fish in his lap and the deity </p><p>Fig. 12. Back of the original base for the 569 A.D. stele in Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery. </p><p>on the right a wind bag. The rest of the attri </p><p>butes are difficult to identify, but the deities </p><p>undoubtedly represent a group of Spirit Kings.22 </p><p>Mizuno identified several series of Spirit Kings in the Northern Ch'i Cave-temples of Hsiang </p><p>t'ang Shan.23 The complete set of ten Spirit </p><p>Kings, who can be identified by their attributes, appears at the base of the walls in Cave 7 in the </p><p>southern group.24 They are dressed in almost the same fashion as those on the Cleveland base. They </p><p>wear an upper garment with scarves flaring up, trousers, and soft boots. They sit cross-ankled or </p><p>in 'lordly ease', and are separated from each other </p><p>by typical Hsiang-t'ang Shan pillars crowned with lotus capitals. Six more Spirit Kings sit along the wall base under the main deities in </p><p>Cave 5,25 also in the southern group. The cos </p><p>tume, minus the scarf, remains the same as that worn by the group in Cave 7. Both Wind Spirit Kings wear long pointed caps. </p><p>Very handsome Spirit Kings adorn the bases of the Central Pillar-Stupas of the Middle and </p><p>North Caves (Figs. 14 &amp; 15) in the northern group at Hsiang-t'ang Shan.26 Each occupies a </p><p>concave niche cut into the base rock. Flames decorate the arch of the niche. The costume here is much more elaborate than any yet discussed. </p><p>Each Spirit King wears soft boots, semi-loose </p><p>trousers, and a flying scarf, but, instead of the usual upper garment, each wears a coat of lea ther armor with circular breast plates and "a cord for fastening hide armor which binds the breast and waist tightly."27 Some wear floral headdresses with tiny flying ribbons like those that flow from the headdresses of Sasanian roy </p><p>alty. A few of the Spirit Kings are easily identi </p><p>30 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>F/?. i3. Reverse of the Northern Ch'i stele, Boston, Mu seum of Fine Arts, no. 50.1074. </p><p>fiable, but others seem to be without their usual </p><p>attributes, and hold only flaming pearls. Their posture is generally a type of 'lordly ease.' </p><p>One well-known set of Spirit Kings, those on </p><p>the base (Fig. 16) that now holds the Trubner stele28 in the Metropolitan Museum, will be dealt </p><p>with at this point due to a problem in dating. The base has a very short history compared with that of the stele. It was bought for the Metro </p><p>politan Museum in 1929 from the same Peking dealer who had originally sold the stele to Mr. </p><p>Trubner several years earlier.29 Since 1930, when the stele and base were erected as one monument, </p><p>they have both been dated Wei, 533-543, the dates given in the stele inscription for work done on a temple which the stele commemorates. The </p><p>style and date of the stele are irrelevant for this </p><p>study, and will be discussed in a future paper. </p><p>On the other hand, the style, costumes, and </p><p>general iconography of the Spirit Kings on the </p><p>Fig. 14. Relief at the base of the Central Pillar of the Mid dle Cave, Northern Hsiang-t'ang Shan (Mizuno, </p><p>Hsiang-t'ang-ssu, pi. LIV). </p><p>Fig. 15. Relief at the base of the Central Pillar of the North Cave. Northern Hsiang-t'ang Shan (Mi zuno, Hsiang-t'ang-ssu, pi. LX,A). </p><p>31 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.78 on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 05:23:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>W?i?^BLiT'f^M ^^HR^Bh^^ &gt;^^IH?^B^^^K&gt; iMB^HH^Snra^^^k?rcIsKA?ja^***? ^Hr*- 'sJimS????l?^^Mll^H^n^Bii^^uKir s?MSB^ '^NtaMfifllv ^ww ^. -^^1 I^H </p><p>^B^^^B^E^HaMSM^^al^^^flF ^^SflpJi?^HflMfl^BBi JIll&amp;?^I^^^^Em^^S9^^^B??B9 ^B ^v* **^B </p><p>^. r &gt; </p><p>f--' </p><p>\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Wm"atrrflf ^mM fr^T -:**4lSr&amp; i/Mw^?...</p></li></ul>