Kalaviṅka

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Karyōbinga in a depiction of the Amitabha Sutra

Kalaviṅka (Sanskrit kalaviṅka कलविङ्क; Japanese Karyōbinga (迦陵頻迦?),[1] Burmese ကရဝိက်, Thai นกการเวก) is a fantastical immortal creature in Buddhism, possessed of a human head and a bird's torso, with long flowing tail.[2]

The kalaviṅka is said to dwell in Buddhist paradise (gokuraku-jōdo, nirvana),[2] and reputed to preach the Buddhist scripture[2] with its fine voice.[2] It is said to sing while still unhatched within its eggshell.[citation needed] Its voice is a descriptor of the Buddha's voice. In Japanese text, it is sometimes written not phonetically, but under translated names myōonchō (妙音鳥 "exquisite sounding bird"?),[3] kōonchō (好音鳥 "goodly sounding bird"?)[3] among other rendered names.

Depictions[edit]

In Chinese art[edit]

In Chinese mural art, it is portrayed as a human-headed, bird-bodied being (i.e. armless?),[citation needed] but in Japanese Buddhist art, it has been portrayed with an upper torso of a winged boddhisatva (i.e., having hands and arms), with a birdlike lower extremity. In the murals of Dunhuang (敦煌) they appear as figures both dancing and playing music.[citation needed]

In Japanese art[edit]

Karyōbinga, panels on octagonal platform. Chūson-ji

A well-known example is the pair of kalaviṅka carved in openwork (sukashibori) onto a Buddhist hanging ornament called the keman, used in the golden hall of Chūson-ji temple in Iwate Prefecture. The kalaviṅka from this ornament was commemorated on a 120-yen definitive stamp issued Nov. 1, 1962.[4] The pose and general appearance on this piece is similar to the ones seen on the octagonal pedestal of the same temple (pictured right).

  • In another keman from the Tokugawa period (see keman page), the creatures stand more bipedally erect and hence more humanlike.
  • In the ancient courtly dance performance Gagaku - karyobin (迦陵頻?) is the name of dance expressive of the kalaviṅka, and is danced in pair with the kochō (胡蝶?), a dance of butterfly motif. The paired dancing is called tsugai-mai (番舞?).
  • A kalaviṅka painting by the brushstrokes of Hasegawa Tōhaku resides in Daitoku-ji (Kyoto), inside the Kinmōkaku (金毛閣?) erected by tea-master Sen no Rikyū.
  • Painted on the ceiling of Tōfuku-ji's Sanmon gate (Kyoto).
  • Painted on the ceiling of Myōshin-ji's Sanmon gate (Kyoto), normally not open to public.
  • The Mizusawa Kannon(ja) at 214 Mizusawa, in the former city of Ikaho, Gunma, Main Hall, front right ceiling, painting of a heavenly woman with eagle-like talons, anonymous.
  • Kawakami Sadayakko (Sada Yacco), billed as the first overseas Japanese actress, late in her life, built a villa located at Unumahōshakujichō, Kagamihara, Gifu. The villa was christened Banshōen (萬松園?) by Itō Hirobumi, and the room with the Buddhist altar has a ceiling painting of kalaviṅka, which may be peered from outside (but access to premises only on Tuesday mornings).

In Tangut art[edit]

The Kalaviṅka is a common feature of Tangut art created during the Western Xia period (1038–1227).

See also[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

(manga)
(Novels)
(Music)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hepburn, James Curtis (1903). A Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionary (google). p. 270. 
  2. ^ a b c d Shinchosha (1985). 新潮世界美術事典 (Shincho Encyclopedia of World Art). Shinchosha. ISBN 4-10-730206-7. 
  3. ^ a b Kojien dictionary, 2nd rev. ed., 1976,
  4. ^ The American Philatelist, volume 76, number ?, 1962, p.70: "A 120-yen stamp in one-color photogravure will be released Nov. 1. 1962, depicting Keman-no-karyōbinga