On the right is Ungyo (By mathewajay flickr.com), one of the two great Nio guardians in front of the Todai-ji temple in Nara. They reside at the great South Gate and are approximately 30 feet tall. Unkei created these highly realistic painted wooden sculptures of priests with inlaid crystal eyes. They capture the highly dramatic spirit of the militaristic Kamakura society of the shoguns. He was one of the most famous sculptors of his day.
On the left is Kongo Rikishi (commons.wikimedia.org). Unkei created this sculpture using the joined-wood technique. This allowed him to extend the wood into space allowing added suggestive movement and realism. He was able to express the fury of Rikishi and give life to the sculpture. The tension and expression of the guardian seem to reveal the effects of the single-mindedness nature of the samurai at the time. Few statuary pieces can compare to the expression of this figure.
Art Beyond the West
by Michael Kampen O'Reiley