However, in art forms, he appears most commonly with three faces and eight arms.The cult of Batō appears not to have been as popular as those of the other esoteric Kannon, although it is recorded that an image of Batō was enshrined in Saidaiji Temple 西大寺 in Nara in the late 8th century.The scriptural basis for the six can be traced back to a late 6th-century Tendai text from China, although Batō was not part of the original six but rather inserted some four centuries later. In this role, the deity is known as Batō Myō-ō 馬頭明王 and included in a grouping known as the Hachidai Myō-ō 八大明王 (lit. Batō Kannon is not only said to protect dumb animals, particularly those who labor for mankind, but extends those powers to protecting their spirits and bringing them ease and a happier life than they experienced while on earth. Hadland Davis, 1913)In esoteric traditions, Batō Kannon appears in the Taizōkai (Womb World) Mandala in the Lotus Court (Rengebu-in 蓮華部院), also known as the Kannon-in 観音院.Says the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (abridged; sign in with user name = guest): “In Japan, from the beginning of the Tokugawa period, steles of Batō Kannon were dedicated to a deceased horse, as attested by numerous roadside steles bearing its figure and the inscription 馬供養 uma kuyō.In later Tantric Buddhism from India, Byakue Kannon is the consort of Amida 阿弥陀.It may be argued that this is a result of being considered as a symbol of the aspiration to enlightenment and the source of the Buddha and Bodhisattva in the Taizōkai Mandara.
Nowadays you even find bicycles in front of the many stone votive statues to Batō on waysides.In the Japanese Shingon tradition, Batō Kannon is the strong protector of the bodhimaṇḍa (Skt.= awakening seat; the place where one attains enlightenment). Batō is also considered to be the angry form of the Buddha Muryōju (Muryoju) 無量寿.A persistent femininity clings to Byakue Kannon even though the figure is typically shown as male.Texts describe esoteric forms of Byakue Kannon with various attributes.