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The name[edit]

Calling the particular deity as Nio is simply incorrect. That is very biased in favor of Japanese culture, as if the entity came from Japan itself. And the statue of Heracles having influence on the sculpture of this guy is simply incorrect. That is only based on speculation and it has nothing to do with the deity itself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:51, 2 January 2014 (UTC)


According to my electronic dictionary, 「仁王」is simply the Japanese translation for "Deva". Can anyone confirm this?

Correct Names[edit]

According to the version of this page on the Japanese wikipedia, the naming of these statues is incorrect. "Kongourikishi" is actually the name used for both statues, both open-mouthed (a-gyou) and closed-mouthed (un-gyou) versions. "Shukongoushin" is actually a different type of statue; while it depicts the same deity, "Shukongoushin" is a lone armor-clad warrior, as opposed to the two more common shirtless figures. It also goes on to state that Toudaiji Temple has special, individually-named versions: "a-gyou" is called "Kongourikishi" while "un-gyou" is called "Misshakurikishi". Finally, perhaps becoming irrelevant to the English-language version by this point, the Thousand-Armed Goddess Kanon has two more Niou variants in her "family" named "Naraenkengou" (open-mouthed) and "Misshakukongourikishi".

Because I'm just reading this information from the (presumably more accurate, for obvious reasons) Japanese version of the page, I don't have any real source or verification for this (imagine an encyclopedia citing itself!), so rather than making the changes (and editing all the related pages) myself, I'm just leaving this note for more thorough/less lazy persons. My apologies if this is bad form.

As an aside, it also says that "Niou" can be written with the characters "仁王" (Benevolent Kings) or "二王" (Two Kings). The English entry for Kongourikishi has "仁王" translated as "Two Kings", which isn't 100% wrong as such but it is the wrong translation for that particular character.

Thanks for the info! I'll try to get a verification of that. – Quadell (talk) (bounties) 16:10, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Terminology corrections made according to ja:金剛力士 and cited sources. See also [1] [2] [3] [4] for examples in English. —  AjaxSmack  07:29, 22 January 2007 (UTC)


This was mentioned previously. All sources indicate that "Kongorikishi" and "Shukongoshin" are essentially the same thing and not the difference between "Agyō" and "Ungyō." I suggest that the two articles be merged into Nio and then perhaps separate pages could be made for Agyō and Ungyō. Sudachi 06:59, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

NiO is Nickel oxide too[edit]

--Smokefoot 02:28, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Additional info[edit]

Tōdaiji note[edit]

Ungyō and Agyō at Tōdaiji, from 1203, restored 1988–92. Made from 3800 and 4200 pieces of wood, respectively. Agyō damaged in 1567 when Tōdaiji buildings burned by Matsudaga Hisahide; musketball from that time recovered from shoulder during restoration.[1] Each weighs about two tonnes.[2]


The depiction of the niō influenced the style of the aragoto (rough) characters in kabuki.[3]

  1. ^ "Cultural Survey, 1992". Monumenta Nipponica. 48 (2): 247–59. 1993. 
  2. ^ "Cultural Survey, 1989". Monumenta Nipponica. 45 (1): 87–94. 1990. 
  3. ^ Kominz, Laurence (1983). "Ya no Ne: The Genesis of a Kabuki Aragoto Classic". Monumenta Nipponica. 38 (4): 387–407. 


I have removed the following, very questionable material from the page:

Hellenistic influence

Kongōrikishi are an interesting case of the possible transmission of the image of the Greek hero Heracles to the East Asia along the Silk Road. Heracles was used in Greco-Buddhist art to represent Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha (See also Image), and his representation was then used in China and Japan to depict the protector gods of Buddhist temples. This transmission is part of the wider Greco-Buddhist syncretic phenomenon, where Buddhism interacted with the Hellenistic culture of Central Asia from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD[1].

Iconographical evolution from the Greek Heracles to Shukongōshin. From left to right:
1) Herakles (Louvre Museum).
2) Heracles on coin of Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius I.
3 Vajrapani, the protector of the Buddha, depicted as Herakles in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara.
4) Shukongōshin of Buddhist temples in Japan.
  1. ^ "The origin of the image of Vajrapani should be explained. This deity is the protector and guide of the Buddha Sakyamuni. His image was modelled after that of Hercules. (...) The Gandharan Vajrapani was transformed in Central Asia and China and afterwards transmitted to Japan, where it exerted stylistic influences on the wrestler-like statues of the Guardina Deities (Nio)." (Katsumi Tanabe, "Alexander the Great, East-West cultural contacts from Greece to Japan", p23)

I think this section needs more than one source for such a claim. The author of the given source could be the only person who thinks images of the Nio are based on that of Hercules. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 23:37, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Very very late reply, but I ran across this idea in The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in the context of cultural exchange along the Silk Road. Can't give a page number right now; the book is in a box somewhere. But there are multiple sources available for the idea. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:38, 1 April 2013 (UTC)


Is there a commonly used non-Japanese word available? The Korean word is Inwang (인왕, 仁王). It would seem odd to use this Japanese word in the context of Korean or Chinese temples. Waygugin (talk) 13:26, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Another image[edit]

Would it be them too? (Portrayed on the doors of a Hokkien community center in Melaka)

Would this also be a portrayal of the two 仁王? Vmenkov (talk) 03:37, 13 February 2010 (UTC)