Statue of Fudo [Object of the Day #44]

August 16, 2012

Statue of Fudo
Statue of Fudo

This statue of Fudo, one of the Myo-o (Knowledge Kings), sits in the midst of fire symbolizing invulnerability. Also known as the immovable one, he is a part of a fierce class of protective deities who form an important category in Shingon art. Often depicted holding a lasso and vajra hilted sword, the statue was secured by Maxwell Sommerville from Koyasan Temple in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. He wears a metal and bead necklace and sits on a stylized rock formation. His sword is missing.

Sommerville installed his Buddhist temple in the museum in 1899. The Fudo statue can be seen in the right of the photo. Sommerville is visible in his robes in the center. UPMAA Image # 174881.

Sommerville collected a large amount of Buddhist material for an exhibit he installed in the Penn Museum (then the Free Museum of Science and Art) when it opened in 1899.   He was  known to dress up in Buddhist robes and give tours to museum goers explaining the nature of the various Buddhist deities rendered in bronze, wood, and clay throughout the display. Some of these were advertized in the newspaper with an occasional write-up of his remarks. He produced a catalog for the show as well.

Penn Museum Object #29-96-346.

View this and other objects like it in Penn Museum’s Online Database

Read about Sommerville in Expedition magazine article Hidden Treasures from the Vault: Engraved Gems from the Maxwell Sommerville Collection by Dietrich Berges
View another stunning example of Fudo at the IMA through Google Art Project.