Handpainted Copy of Marishiten (Marici) (War God)


Marishiten 摩利支天

CATEGORY: art history / iconography

Transliteration of Sanskrit Marici, the name of a Buddhist goddess representing an amalgamation of several Hindu antecedents, primarily the god Marici, who is considered to have been a son of Brahma (*Bonten 梵天) or one of the ten patriarchs created by the first lawgiver Manu. The deity assumed female form on adoption into Buddhism. Since marici means "light" or "mirage", Marici was regarded as a deification of mirages and being thus invisible or difficult to see was invoked in order to escape the notice of one's enemies. This martial aspect has been carried over in the cult of Marishiten in Japan, where she came to be revered as a tutelary deity of the warrior class. Later she was also worshipped as a goddess of wealth and prosperity among the merchant class, being counted along with *Daikokuten 大黑天 and *Benzaiten 弁財天 as one of a trio of "three deities" (santen 三天)invoked for such a purpose during the Edo period. She assumes a variety of forms and may have one, three, five or six faces and two, six, eight, ten or twelve arms; in her many-faced manifestations one of her faces is that of a sow, and she rides either a sow or a chariot drawn by seven pigs. Images of Marishiten are common in India, but there are few examples in Japan. Shoutakuin 聖驛院 (Kyoto) has a polychrome painting said to be of Korean provenance, while Tokudaiji 德大寺 (Tokyo) is dedicated to a large image of her dubiously attributed to Shoutoku Taishi 聖德太子 (574-622). The Nispannayogavali also describes a mandala, *mandara 曼荼羅, centred on Marishiten.

Marishiten riding a boar (Muromachi period 1392 - 1568)

Marishiten (Marici), worshipped as a protection against fire and as the protector of warriors, is sometimes included as one of the twelve Yaksha Generals associated with Yakushi (Bhaisajyaguru), the Buddha of Medicine. While he rarely appears in Chinese Buddhist art, this deity often appears in that of Japan and Tibet. In Figure 8, a woodblock print from the Muromachi period, Marishiten is dressed in armour and rides on the back of a boar. He has three heads, each with a fierce expression, and a third eye in each forehead. His arms hold a sword, a fan, a bow and arrow, and a long spear. A halo of flames appears behind the figure.

摩利支天 -- 隱身和消災的保護神 (摩利支天在道教被稱為斗母元君)。此天威力極大﹐上管三十六天罡星﹐下管七十二地煞星﹐二十八宿皆為此天所管。 周天一十二宮﹐分二十八宿﹐日行一日一度﹐一年一周天。月行一日十三度﹐一月一周天。星度闊狹不一﹐每月行度各有不同﹐主人間禍福之事。


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