Buddhist Woodcut of Bishamon-Ten
Artist/maker unknown, Japanese
Bishamonten is one of the Four Heavenly Kings (lokapālas) of Buddhism who watch over the cardinal directions. This warrior-like guardian of the north is believed to provide protection for people’s wealth and fortune in the folklore tradition. Typically depicted in intricate armor, Bishamonten holds a spear in one hand, symbolizing his martial power. The small pagoda in the other hand is a treasure house from which he distributes fortune to his worthy followers.