Red Fudo: Initial Reaction
The colors used in this piece are all very warm tones, reds, golds and browns. This palate makes the figures and scenery blend together in a sense without much interruption.The definite focal point would be the imposing red figure in the upper left. However the eye seems to be directed towards the middle, where the red figure is holding a thin white rope in his left hand. The rope stands out in vivid contrast with the red of his skin and lavish robes. In his right hand he is holding a staff or sword with a golden dragon curled around it.Besides the impressiveness of the red figure himself, there are some very interesting things going on around him. He seems to be sitting on a pile of large stones with flames swirling around in the background. There are two presumably human figures standing down at the feet of the red figure. There is an odd facial feature that all three figures share. They all seem to have a set of large teeth or fangs. The two smaller men are still well dressed but they do not share the same ornate jewelry of the larger red figure. This might suggest they are servants or followers of red figure.
Red Fudo: After Research
This painting is part of the Esoteric Buddhist art movement, in which traditional Buddhism spread into Japan. As it spread it began to grow and develop sub-sects of the practice. In this case the universal Buddha leads a group of different deities. The red figure in this piece is called Fudo Myo-o, or the Immovable one. He is one of the minor deities that the Buddha rules over. Fudo Myo-o is one of five Wisdom Kings, they each represent a different aspect of the Buddha's teachings. Fudo Myo-o is one of the more fierce deities, the red hue of his skin, glaring eyes, fangs and imposing size represent his ability to slay demons. The objects he carries are also to aid in the spreading of the Buddha's teaching. The white rope Fudo Myo-o holds is in fact a lasso which he uses to guide lost souls towards enlightenment. His golden sword with the snarling dragon represents lightning which can sever any notion of delusion.The two men with him are indeed some of his faithful attendants.
References: Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "Japan and Korea", Art Beyond the West, 2nd Edition. 164-165. 2006, Print.
Asia Society: the Collection in Context. Japan, 2007.http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org