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Karyōbinga in a depiction of the Amitabha Sutra

Kalaviṅka (Sanskrit: कलविङ्क kalaviṅka; Pali: karavika; Chinese: 迦陵頻伽 Jiālíngpínqié;[1] Japanese: 迦陵頻伽, romanizedKaryōbinga,[2] Korean: 가릉빈가;[3] Vietnamese: Ca Lăng Tần Già; Burmese: ကရဝိက် karawik; Thai: การเวก, Malay: karawek) is a fantastical immortal creature in Buddhism, with a human head and a bird's torso, with long flowing tail.[4]

The kalaviṅka is said to dwell in the Western pure land and reputed to preach the Dharma with its fine voice.[4] 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 goes by various titles such as myōonchō (妙音鳥, "exquisite sounding bird"),[5] kōonchō (好音鳥, "goodly sounding bird")[5] among others.

Edward H. Schafer notes that in East Asian religious art the Kalaviṅka is often confused with the Kinnara, which is also a half-human half-bird hybrid mythical creature, but that the two are actually distinct and unrelated.[6]


In Burmese art[edit]

The Karaweik barge in Yangon.

The karaweik is commonly used as a motif in traditional Burmese royal barges. The Karaweik located on Yangon's Kandawgyi Lake is an iconic reproduction of the karaweik royal barge.

In Chinese art[edit]

In Chinese mural art, it is portrayed as a human-headed, bird-bodied being.[citation needed] 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.[7] 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).

In Hinduism[edit]

Kalavinka was born from one of the head of Vishvaroopacharya who was beheaded by Indra. Indra was angry when Vishwaroopacharya was found to be praying for demons instead of gods. Indra cut his three heads which respectively became Kalavinka, Kapinjala and Tittiri (all birds)[8]

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Tokyo-based Tsukumo Cycle Sports's brand is Kalavinka. Many of the bikes feature the Karyōbinga kanji as well as a head badge which features the image of the karyoubinga with the head of a bodhisattva bosatsu and the winged body of a bird.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "迦陵頻伽 - 教育百科". Cloud.edu.tw. Ministry of Education, Republic of China. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  2. ^ Hepburn, James Curtis (1903). A Japanese-English and English-Japanese dictionary (google). p. 270.
  3. ^ "평창 올림픽 개막식 인면조의 정체는 '가릉빈가'?" (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  4. ^ a b Shinchosha (1985). 新潮世界美術事典 (Shincho Encyclopedia of World Art). Shinchosha. ISBN 4-10-730206-7.
  5. ^ a b Kojien dictionary, 2nd rev. ed., 1976,
  6. ^ Schafer, Edward H. (1963). The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Tʻang Exotics. University of California Press. p. 103.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Bhagavata Purana. Canto 6 Chapter 9 Verse 5.CS1 maint: location (link)
  9. ^ "* Kalavinka * Tsukumo Cycle Sports".