Description The large figure on the right of the tsuba is one of the paired guardians ("ni-ô") who guard the main south gate at Buddhist temples in Japan. These fierce looking figures protect temples from evil spirits. In front of the statue is a pilgirm. At the lower left is another pilgrim, with his staff and hat laying near him. On the reverse is a man crawling through a hole in a pillar. This reveals that the temple is Todaiji in Nara. The pillar is in the Great Buddha Hall and the hole is said to be the size of the nostrils of the Buddha statue. The statue itself is forty nine feet high. Those who successfully pass through the hole in the pillar are believed to gain enlightenment in their next life.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature] 忠之; [Translation] Tadayuki
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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