In Hinduism, Garuda, the mythical bird who serves as the mount of Lord Vishnu, has been revered as a guardian of Buddhist teachings since its incorporation into Buddhism. As one of the eight guardian deities of the historical Buddha, and one of the twenty-eight guardians of the Thousand-Armed Kannon, Garuda is a highly revered figure in the faith. Known for summoning clouds and causing storms, he is said to consume evil dragons and is believed to bring benefits such as preventing rain, dispelling lightning, and granting longevity.
This statue was made based on one of the National Treasures in Kyoto, "Wooden Twenty-Eight Guardian Deities Statue." It is believed to have been created in the Kamakura period in the workshop of one of Unkei's sons, Zōkei. This sculpture, representing a bird-headed human figure, is a masterpiece of realism and one of the most striking examples of the Kei school of sculpture, characterized by its hyper-realistic and unusual form.