Pair of Zuijin (“Minister of the Right” and “Minister of the Left”)
Gift of Captain Clayton L. Miller and the Asian Arts Council, 1979.18.1-2
Zuijin are Shinto protector deities modeled after two of the most powerful positions within the Japanese court during the Heian period (794–1185). They are dressed as captains of the imperial bodyguard, in courtier's attire of the highest rank. The younger Minister of the Left is depicted with his mouth closed, and his elder counterpart is shown with his mouth slightly open. Zuijin are perceived as Shinto equivalents of Buddhist guardian deities, for both share the same closed and open mouth pairing, and both flank the entrances to a place of worship.