The name is a transliteration of Garuda (Sanskrit: Garuḍa गरुड ; Pāli: Garuḷa) a race of enoromously gigantic birds in Hinduism, upon which the Japanese Buddhist version is based. The same creature may go by the name of konjichō (金翅鳥?, lit. "gold-winged bird", Skr. suparṇa).
The karura is said to be enormous, fire-breathing, and to feed on dragons/serpents, just as Garuda is the bane of Nāgas. Only a dragon who possesses a Buddhist talisman, or one who has converted to the Buddhist teaching, can escape unharmed from the Karura. Shumisen or Mount Meru is said to be its habitat.
One famous example is the karura statue at Kōfukuji temple, Nara (amongst the eight deva statues presented at Eye-opening ceremony dated to the year Tenpyō 6 or 734 AD, pictured top right). This karura is depicted as wearing Chinese Tang dynasty style armor, and thus is seen wingless.
But more conventionally, the karura (garuda) is depicted as a winged being with human torso and avian head, as in the Vajra Hall (Kongō buin (金剛部院?)) section of the Womb Realm mandala (Taizōkai mandara (胎蔵界曼荼羅?)) and other iconographic books and scrolls.
- Karyobinga (kalavinka) - angel or harpy like creature in Buddhism
- Kinnara - another avian creature, sometimes included among one of eight devas.
- Devas of the Eight Classes (fr:Tianlong babu) - Also called Tenryū Hachibushū (天竜八部衆 "Devas and dragons of the Eight Classes"?); the comprising list of eight creatures will depend on the source.
- List of avian humanoids
- Millennium mamodos
- Shinchosha (1985). 新潮世界美術事典 (Shincho Encyclopedia of World Art). Shinchosha. ISBN 4-10-730206-7.
- Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Japan By Saroj Kumar Chaudhuri p.151
- Shinmura, Izuru (1976). 広辞苑(Kōjien). Iwanami.. Japanese dictionary, 2nd revised edition
- Murano, Takao; Tetsurô Kôno (translator) (1997). 興福寺国宝展(Kōfukuji kokuhō ten)(exhibit catalog). Art Research Foundation. , Item #3-2, p.vii (English caption), 32-33 (photo), p.189 (text by Kaneko, Tomoaki(金子智明))
- The multilexic Shinchosha 1985 dictionary does not give an English or any other language equivalent for this entry.
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