Everything in the physical presence of a temple guardian is designed to ward off evil. Placed on both sides of a Buddhist temple gate, the wooden guards are there to scare unwanted energies away from the sanctuary. Befitting their role as protectors, they are usually depicted as ferocious figures with emphasized musculature and facial expressions. The strong bodies of the guardians are sculpted with tightened muscles and placed in bold frozen gestures that seem infused with repressed movement (as if they are ready to discharge at any moment).
The watchmen are made to protect the temple from all threats. Anything that can harm something or someone inside the sacred place is stopped at the gate by these fierce custodians and is not allowed to pass.
Temple guards always come in pairs. One of the sculptures has his mouth open, as the other keeps his jaws firmly together.
The open mouthed guardian is made to pronounce the sound “a” and is called Agyō. The other guard is named Ungyō, after the “un” sound he produces. These sounds are the first and the last syllables of the ancient Sanskrit Siddham. Between each other, the set of wardens represent all cosmic sounds and stand for every form of humanly imaginable (and unimaginable) wisdom and compassion.
A person that passes trough a guarded gate is symbolically enlightened with these powers.