Fudo Myoo Light Fixture, 2015

 

Fudo Myoo Light Fixture, 2015
Recycled steel
20″ x 10″ x 10″
Commission

JF Amprimoz already owned one of my World Domination Torches when he proposed commissioning a custom gong in exchange for his services helping me with SEO for my new website. He wrote me the following (very helpful) email:

I have a deity that I think would make a fantastic Totem Gong: Fudo Myoo

Fudo Myoo

Acala (his sanskrit name) transmits the teachings and the injunctions of Mahâvairocana to all living beings and whether they agree to accept or to reject these injunctions is up to them, Acala’s blue/black body and fierce face symbolize the force of his will to draw all beings to follow the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, Acala’s nature is essentially one of compassion and he has vowed to be of service to all beings for eternity.

Acala also represents his aspect of service by having his hair knotted in the style of a servant: his hair is tied into seven knots and falls down from his head on the left side. Acala has two teeth protruding from out of his mouth, an upper tooth and a lower tooth. The upper tooth is pointed downward and this represents his bestowing unlimited compassion who are suffering in body and spirit. His lower tooth is pointed upward and this represents the strength of his desire to progress upward in his service for the Truth. In his upward search for Bodhi and in his downward concern for suffering beings, he represents the beginning of the religious quest, the awakening of the Bodhicitta and the beginning of his compassionate concern for others. It is for this reason that the figure of Acala is placed first among the thirteen deities.

He usually has a squint in his left eye as well. And as an enlightened being he has the big long earlobes

What do you think? Does he look like a good candidate for an oxygen tank conversion? I’d love to have a big metal one of him scowling away at me to remind me to get my ass back on the noble eightfold path 😉

I did a great deal of image research, as I usually do, but the most helpful thing was JF’s descriptions of Fudo Myoo’s physical characteristics (which he found here and here). Those detailed descriptions let me know what elements to be sure to include, and what was important to the identity of Fudu. After I made the initial drawings on steel, I photographed them and sent them to JF for approval before cutting. He continued to provide really great feedback that helped with the design. On Twitter, he posted: “I’m having way too much fun figuring out details of my commission with @johntunger … Technical skill, creative, amazing sense of narrative.”

There were a few elements of the gong where I gave JF choices between one style or another… the braid and the crown particularly. I had thought about using 1 inch thick rebar for the braid, since it does resemble plaited hair, but the forged piece we used worked even better. Here was JF’s response to choices at that stage:

Yes! Sweet! The forged part will be amazing I think, the floral center will add some symmetry and it actually looks like a braid. Great find. The curls look amazing, cant wait to see the full head of hair so to speak. Really excited at how this is looking, fantastic stuff.

And here was what he wrote to me when he saw the finished piece:

Overall I love how you made him ferocious and regal at once. Most representations go very ferocious, but what you’ve done is a perfect match for someone who will stop at nothing to help you be at peace and compassionate. This is why I’ve always liked him: he was a clear example of the dualisims and contradictions that are inherent to Buddhism and any self discovery process.

In the spirit of how much you’ve got the narrative, here’s an explanation of his appearance and teeth that might inspire.

Acala transmits the teachings and the injunctions of Mahâvairocana (read Dharma) to all living beings and whether they agree to accept or to reject these injunctions is up to them, Acala’s blue/black body and fierce face symbolize the force of his will to draw all beings to follow the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, Acala’s nature is essentially one of compassion and he has vowed to be of service to all beings for eternity.

Acala has two teeth protruding from out of his mouth, an upper tooth and a lower tooth. The upper tooth is pointed downward and this represents his bestowing unlimited compassion who are suffering in body and spirit. His lower tooth is pointed upward and this represents the strength of his desire to progress upward in his service for the Truth. In his upward search for Bodhi and in his downward concern for suffering beings, he represents the beginning of the religious quest, the awakening of the Bodhicitta and the beginning of his compassionate concern for others.

Both of us are quite happy with the final results, obviously. It might be interesting to do a series of Buddhist deities.

There was one more change that happened during the process, which is that we agreed that rather than a hanging gong, the piece would work better on a table, lit from within by a lamp (since the piece weighs about 80 pounds). The previous gongs that I’ve made currently hang as lights on the outside of my studio barn and work much better in that context.

 

 

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