Brief description of Kitora Tumulus

113The four directional deities of Kitora Tumulus are so realistic they seem to move.

Black Snake-Tortoise – North Wall
A snake entwines the westward facing body of a tortoise in a great arc, its head and tail crossing at the top. The tortoise looks back over its shoulder, meeting the snake face to face. The speckled pattern on the snake’s body, and the spotty circular design at the edge of the tortoise’s shell are salient characteristics.
● Height, 14.9 cm; width, 24.7 cm; width of the snake’s circular arc, 18.7 cm

White Tiger – West Wall
Reversing the White Tiger’s normal orientation, the head is facing north. Slender in body with a long neck, both eyes and the mouth are open, and the front legs are outstretched. Its tail passes under the right hind leg before extending upward. Feathery wisps extend backward, as if trailing on the wind, from the jaws and shoulders, and areas near the leg joints. Parts of its shoulders and hind legs are colored red, and its belly is also painted vermilion. Detailed depictions of the hairs of its ears and the black eyes are also worthy of note.
● Height, 24.3 c; width, 41.7 cm

Red Phoenix – South Wall
With its beak pointing west, foot kicking the ground and wings outstretched, the dynamic form of the Red Phoenix is extremely unusual, appearing as though about to take flight. The body is slender like a pheasant, and has a crown-like feather on its head and decorative feathers that look like ears. Five long tail feathers are drawn, near which marks from a spatula used to make the rough sketch can be readily observed. While a portion of the tip of its left wing is missing due to looting in the Kamakura period, most of the image has survived.
● Height, 15.0 cm; surviving width, 39.2 cm

Blue Dragon – East Wall
Most of the image is hidden by mud that has poured in through gaps between the ceiling stones, and even in infrared photographs only the front leg up to the shoulder could be confirmed. The dragon is drawn with two horns on its head, a wide-open mouth, and an elongated tongue and lower jaw. From the sides of its nose two fangs thrust upward and two point downward. The front legs are outstretched forward, and there is decorative hair on the shoulders.
● Height, 20.0 cm