Known as the Four Heavenly Kings, these figures are positioned at the four corners of Japanese Buddhist altars, each watching over a different cardinal direction. As deities, they protect from evil spirits – psychological states that go against the Buddha and his message of freedom from suffering. The examples displayed here were likely intended for the altar of a smaller worship space, rather than that of a large temple. The Shitennō are usually portrayed dressed in armor, carrying symbolic weapons or objects, and standing on a demonic figure - signifying their dominance over enemies of Buddhism. This is the Shitenno associated with the Southern direction. He holds two halberds, one long and one short.
Audio Tour by Greencastle Middle School students Hunter and Jonah.