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Reliquary pagoda sutra holder, lacquered wood, Japan, 19th c.

Reliquary pagoda sutra holder, lacquered wood, Japan, 19th c.

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Devotional Objects: Pre 1900: Item # 1425051

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Reliquary in the shape of a pagoda, used to house the Hokyoin Sutra. This type of reliquary originates from China and developed in Japan in the Kamakura era. The Hokyoin Darani sutra contains invocations that make it easier for the soul of the deceased to find its way out of Hell directly into Paradise. These pagodas are usually made of stone, so they can be buried with the deceased. The sutra is recited daily in esoteric Buddhist sects, and is venerated as a relic of the Buddha Shakyamuni. As such the lower part should contain relics.
The pagoda is made in two parts. The lower part can be opened (double doors on one side), showing a void that could be filled with something circular. The upper part has four disc shape decorations sitting on a lotus dais, each with a name of the Bodhisattva in bonji (Sanskrit): Aizen Myoo (front), Kokuzo bosatsu (left), Senju Kanzeon bosatsu (back), and Seishi bosatsu (right).
Gold and black lacquer on wood, Japan, Edo period, 19th century.

H ca. 15.5 in; W 5 in.; D 5 in.

Few segments missing (jewel on top of the pike; lotus dais underneath one of the bonji, one of the corner petals on second tier), dedication and name of donor scratched out (back), knicks and dents