Deities in Japanese Art: Session 3

special Lecture Series

Deities in Japanese Art

Session 3: Bodhisattvas

in collaboration with Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Bodhisattva Jizō , circa 1070-1120, Gift of Anna Bing Arnold, Photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA

Date & Time:

Tuesday, November 14, 7pm


The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Street parking is available near JFLA. Click here for parking info.

Admission Free

Rather than a purely academic approach to Japanese religious art, the purpose of this lecture series is to help participants’ locate visual clues by which the deities can be identified and differentiated. The figures will be contextualized within Japanese religious history and connected to their iconographical antecedents in the arts of India, China, and Korea.

The third lecture will talk about Bodhisattvas, deities who have achieved enlightenment themselves but have delayed their own exit from the cycle of rebirth to guide others to enlightenment. Japanese Buddhism is full of these strange yet wonderfully virtuous attendant deities, from the monk-like bodhisattva of the hells to the horse-headed bodhisattva of compassion.

This lecture series is the product of a special collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), Japanese Art Department.

scheduled LECTURES:

Session 4: Wisdom Kings (*December 19)

With their wrathful visages and weapons, the Wisdom Kings protect the buddhas and intimidate wayward Buddhist practitioners back into devotion. Rather than a proclivity to violence, however, this class of deity embodies the buddha’s compassion and grace, in their unfaltering dedication to returning lost souls into his presence.



Session 5: Celestial Beings (*January 16, 2018)

The final class of deities - known collectively as the celestial beings - primarily serve as guardians and protectors of the Buddhist cosmos. The most prominent are the Four Celestial Guardian Kings who oversee the cardinal directions, the chief of whom came to be worshiped alone as a Buddhist deity; other examples include the Temple Guardians and Twelve Celestial Generals.



*Date are subject to change

About lecturer

Michael VanHartingsveldt graduated in 2017 with a Master’s Degree in East Asian Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Claremont Graduate University. His work as a research and curatorial intern with the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has culminated in several notable projects, including a detailed analysis of LACMA’s sculpture of Fudō Myōō and an exhibition with Hollis Goodall entitled “Japanese Paintings: A Walk in Nature” on themes in Edo-period paintings of the landscape.


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