Tenjin is the Shinto god of scholarship, literature, and calligraphy. It is believed that Tenjin is the deified form of Sugawara no Michizane. Revered as a great politician and scholar of Chinese, Michizane (845–903) served as the Heian court ambassador to China during China’s Tang dynasty. In 901, Michizane was exiled and demoted as a result of a conspiracy hatched by his rivals in the Fujiwara family. After his death, many natural disasters wrecked havoc on Kyoto. These events were attributed to Michizane’s angry ghost. In order to appease the incensed spirit, the emperor renamed him Karai Tenjin, which translates to God of Fire and Thunder, and built a shrine in his memory at Kitano


Cataloguing data may change with further research.

If you have questions about this work of art or the MFAH Online Collection please contact us.

Artist
Japanese
Title
Tenjin
Date
12th century
Medium
Camphor wood, with traces of pigment
Dimensions
Height: 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
67.10
Classification
Sculpture
Provenance

Research ongoing