1

Male Shinto Deity, Japan, Heian period (ca. 900–1185), 10th century. Japanese cypress with traces of color. H. 20 5/8 in. (52.4 cm). Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015; 2015.300.256a © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2

Female Shinto Deity, Japan, Heian period (ca. 900–1185), 10th century. Japanese cypress with traces of color. H. 20 5/8 in. (52.4 cm). Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015; 2015.300.256b © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This pair of Shinto deities is represented in human form, wearing Heian court dress to suggest sacred and secular authority. These figures were likely produced in connection with the ancient court practice of honoring the spirit ancestors of aristocratic families as a reward for their political and cultural contributions. The square faces, stout bodies, and deeply carved robes resemble the stylized rendering of early Heian-period Buddhist sculpture.