Prtable feretory for enshrining Buddha’s relics


Prtable feretory for enshrining Buddha’s relics

Craft work / Nara

Nanbokuchō period, 14th century/Shitoku 4, 1387

Wood, lacquered and painted

H 30.3


Formerly kept in Gakuan-ji temple, Nara


This rather flat feretory can be hung around the neck if a braid is attached to a pair of fittings at its top, but judging from the holes in the bottom plate, it is conceivable that a platform had once been attached to this feretory for Buddhist services.
A partition panel is placed within the feretory onto which a round mirror is attached. Radiating lines drawn on the panel indicate the light rays which are supposed to be sent out from the holy mirror. The center of the mirror is scooped out to provide room for inserting a container for relics and a gilt-bronze holy letter. On the reverse side of the panel, the Kongō-kai (Vajradhātu) Shuji (Sanskrit symbols) Mandala is painted, and inside the Taizō-kai (Garbhadhātu) Shuji Mandala painted on a silk fabric is attached onto the back wall of the feretory, so that the two mandala paintings representing two realms face each other. Fudo-myō’ō (Acalanātha) and Gozanze-myō’ō (Trailokyavijaya) are painted on the reverse side of the double door of the feretory. It is notable that both of the myō’ō images reflect the idea of esoteric Buddhism.
The inscription about how this feretory for forty-five relic pieces was made and the date of production (1387) is written in ink on a paper strip which is attached to the hole of the partition panel, where the relic container is to be inserted. The paper strip is surrounded by four holy letters written on the panel which represent four Buddhist saints of the Kongō-kai. This feretory used to be kept in Gakuan-ji temple in Nara.

Masterpieces of Nara National Museum. Nara National Museum, 1993, p.109, no.85.

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