Lecture Series: Deities in Japanese Art

special Lecture Series

Deities in Japanese Art

Session 4: wisdom kings

in collaboration with Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Yūten Swallowing the Sword of Fudō , 1885, Herbert R. Cole Collection,Photo © Museum
Associates/ LACMA

Date & Time:

Tuesday, December 19, 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

Note: We are now using EventBrite as our RSVP system so don't be surprised if this looks different than before!

What do you know about the Wisdom Kings (Myo-o in Japanese) in Buddhism?  They are third-ranked deities after Buddhas and Bodhisattavas who, with their wrathful visages and weapons, 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. In this lecture, we will be introduced to the many kinds of Wisdom Kings and their various roles, as well as how they are portrayed artistically.

This will be the fourth lecture in this series and will begin with a quick review of what was covered in previous lectures to give first-time attendees context as to where Wisdom Kings fit into the hierarchy of deities in Buddhism.  No prior knowledge is necessary to enjoy this fun and fascinating talk!

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

scheduled LECTURES:

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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