Kangi Ten

Kangi Ten



Two elephants locked in erotic embrace: that’s the magical image of Kangi Ten. Kangi Ten names a pair of elephant spirits and the specific iconographic image used to represent them. Kangi Ten is known elsewhere but is particularly popular in Japan. Veneration of the image unlock Kangi Ten’s many blessings:

• Kangi Ten bestows happiness, health and good fortune

• Kangi Ten bestows material wealth as well as supernatural and erotic prowess

• Kangi Ten is also petitioned to avert and eliminate crises and disasters

Kangi Ten’s identity is unclear and subject to debate. The male elephant may be an East Asian manifestation of Ganesha or a completely different elephant deity. The female may be a distinct, independent elephant deity or an emanation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Earliest documented veneration of Kangi Ten dates from the early 17th century when Osaka merchants credited Kangi Ten for their wealth, success and good fortune. In response, the merchants offered lavish, generous gifts and Kangi Ten’s reputation spread.

A Japanese Buddhist legend describes Kangi as an obstreperous elephant king who caused obstructions for people. (Al though he is not named, this likely refers to Ganesha, famed for removing obstructions for his own devotees but who has a long history of hostility towards Buddhism.) Avalokiteshvara heard peoples’ cries of despair and took pity. He assumed the form of a sexy female elephant with whom Kangi Ten immediately fell in love. However the lady elephant rejected his embrace until he vowed to stop causing obstructions and start protecting the Dharma.


Kangi Ten is especially venerated by those in food and alcohol service industries such as bars and restaurants as well as by Tantric practitioners


The standard image of Kangi Ten depicts two figures, male and female, each with a human body and an elephant’s head. Their bodies face each other; tightly, closely entwined; heads resting on their partners’ right shoulders, so that they gaze in different directions. They may or may not be engaged in sexual union. The female elephant is usually crowned and bejeweled. She places her feet on those of her mate.

• An alternative pose depict the pair facing in the same direction, cheek-to-cheek, tails entwined

• A rare version depicting the female partner with the head of a wild sow (female boar) is traditionally kept hidden. When venerated in the context of secret Tantric rituals, Kangi Ten also provides marital bliss and lots of happy, healthy children.


Avalokiteshvara; Chinnamasta; Ganesha; Tanuki


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.