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Gigeiten 技芸天

Goddess of the Arts. A minor Buddhist deity revered as patroness of the arts. In Japan, she has been largely supplanted by Benzaiten, the popular Buddhist patroness of music, poetry, learning, and art.

Says JAANUS: According to the GIGEI TENNYO NENJUHO 技芸天女念誦法, she was born from the hairline of Daijizaiten 大自在天 (Skt; Mahesvara) while he was playing music, whence she is also known as Daijizaitennyo 大自在天女 or Makeishura-chōshō-tennyo 摩醯首羅頂生天女 (Goddess born from the crown of Mahesvara).

She is described in literature as holding celestial flowers in her raised left hand, and the hem of her robes with her right hand. However the reknowned sculpture at Akishinodera 秋篠寺 (Nara), with a dry-lacquer head dating from the Nara period attached to a wooden carved body dating from the Kamakura period, takes the form of a bodhisattva (bosatsu), with the right hand raised and the left hand fingering her robes.

Some scholars do question whether this figure actually represents Gigeiten at all. There are very few representations of Gigeiten as an object of worship in Japan, but more recently a large wooden image of her was produced by Takeuchi Hisakazu 竹内久一 (1857-1916) for the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago.