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Buddhist Royal Guardians

Buddhist Royal Guardians

Acrylic on Canvas — February 2018

Nio Protectors Original Art Prints by Clay Roueche

Agyo and Ungyo — the two kings that guard the entrances of Buddhist temples.

Set of Asian art prints of the powerful guardians who are the fierce protectors of the Buddhist tradition. They can be seen in many temples throughout Asia. They are thunderbolt holders posed in positions of superiority—one raising his fist high while his mouth is open exhaling extreme vengeance to scare away demons and the other with his mouth closed to shelter good spirits while his hand is held low, harnessing a massive buildup of energy.

Buddhist Royal Guardian Asian Art PrintRoyal Guardian Buddhist Artwork

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These original vivid prints are the perfect balance in Asian culture. One is termed the Alpha representing the beginning of the universe while the other is the Omega representing the end of the universe.

The Alpha, with his mouth open is aggressive and represents overt power; this guardian is called General Ha in China, Miljeok Geumgang in Korea, and Missaku Kongo in Japan. Adopted by the Japanese Buddhist pantheon he is also named Agyo after a specific cosmic sound.

The Omega with his mouth closed signifies latent might; this guardian is called General Heng in China, Narayeon Geumgang in Korea, and Naraen Kongo in Japan. He is named Ungyo based on the cosmic sound he represents. These guardian deities  were most popular during China’s Tang Dynasty, in Korean around the time of the Hwarang Knights, and feudal Japan during the time of the Samurai.

They are considered the yin and yang of the universe with their combined powers representing all possible outcomes in the cosmic cycle of existence. Although Buddhism is a pacifist religion that prohibits acts of violence, in ancient Asian culture the guardians use of physical force was justified because they protected what was viewed to be of utmost importance. Additionally, their imposing appearance was believed to ward off evil spirits and keep the temple grounds free of demons and thieves.

To create this depiction, the artist viewed images seen in China, Korea, and Japan and formed what he believed would capture the true essence of these guardians. In Roueche’s depiction, two guardian kings are shown wearing crowns with golden colors in the background, their muscle and body structure embodying their superhuman strength, their veins flowing with energy, representing the fact that they are thunderbolt carriers, and their combative stances further reflect their role as royal protectors against any force that poses a threat to the Buddhist way of life.

This colorful set of Buddhist art prints are the perfect pair of protectors for your wall decor.

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