Sculpture of Deities (神像)

A sculpture of deities is a statue or a portrait to represent Kami, an object of worship.

In Japan, many are modeled after Shinto deities, and some originate from Taoistic gods.

In Shinto, traditionally, Yorishiro (an object capable of attracting Kami) such as mirrors, jewels, and swords are worshiped.

Idol worship trend probably comes from the Suijaku theory (Shinto and Buddhist syncretism).

Sculptures of deities were made by believers in anthropomorphism.

Additionally, they were made not naked but dressed.

Many of them are seated statues.

Many sculptures of male deities have a hairstyle of Mizura (wearing one's hair in a bun on each side of the head) or put on a crown; some sculptures of female deities wear Juni-hitoe (twelve-layered ceremonial kimono).

Since sculptures enshrined in shrines are regarded as 'Goshintai' (an object of worship housed in a Shinto shrine and believed to contain the spirit of a deity), they are rarely open to the public, which stands a stark contrast to Buddhist statues in temples.

Examples in Japan

Sogyo Hachimanshin Statue (National Treasure), Kanjinsho Hachimanden of the Todai-ji Temple, a work by Kaikei in 1201
Originally, it was an object of worship enshrined in the Tamukeyama-hachimangu Shrine.
Hachimanshin (God of War) given the title of Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) in the guise of a monk

Statue of Tamayorihime no mikoto (National Treasure), the Yoshino mikumari-jinja Shrine in Nara, a work in 1251
It wears Juni-hitoe; its black hair hangs down, cheeks dimpled, and eyes are Gyokugan (eyes made of crystal which were inserted into the head of a wooden Buddhist statue in order to produce a realistic appearance).

Sogyo Hachimannshin Statue, Empress Jingu Statue, Statue of Nakatsuhime no mikoto (National Treasure), the Yakushi-ji Yasumigaoka-hachiman-jinja Shrine in Nara, a work in the early Heian period

Sogyo Hachimanshin Statue, two statues of female deities (National Treasure), the To-ji Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto, a work in the early Heian period

Two statues of male deities, a statue of a female deity (Important Cultural Property), Matsuo-taisha Shrine in Kyoto, a work in the Heian period

Statue of Kumanohayatama no okami, Statue of Fusumi no kami, Statue of Ketsumiko no okami, Statue of Kunitokotachi no mikoto (National Treasure), the Kumano hayatama-taisha Shrine in Wakayama, a work in the Heian period
Statue of Otomowake no mikoto, Statue of Okinagatarashi hime, Statue of Himegami (Important Cultural Property), the Akana-hachimangu Shrine in Shimane, a work in 1326
A statue of a male deity wearing a traditional formal court dress and two statues of female deities wearing a Chinese dress

Portraits of a male and a female deities, 1295, the Yakushi-ji Yasumigaoka-hachimangu Shrine; a male deity wearing a traditional formal court dress

[Original Japanese]