Artwork Resource Packet: Shukongojin

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A work made of wood with traces of polychromy.
Shukongojin, 1199–1399
Japan

The Art Institute’s figure of Shukongojin, with his demon-like body, flaring eyes, and mouth stretched in a scream, might have originally terrified an oncoming visitor to the temple he guarded, but might have also instilled a sense of protection and reassurance for the visitor who hoped nothing would disturb his meditations once inside. For the viewer today, Shukongojin looks down from his rock-like pedestal, imposing both a sense of awe and curiosity about the target of his aggressive presence. This teaching packet includes an essay, discussion questions, activity ideas, a glossary, and an image of the artwork.

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