Nara period, 8th century

Bamboo with shelves of wood

縦40.0 横75.1 高55.1


National Treasure

This is a miniature shrine made of bamboo that was used to store Buddhist sutras. An ancient document called the Record of Assets of the Eastern Precinct at Hōryūji, which is held by the temple, describes this shrine, stating that it held 20 scrolls, including an annotated version of the Lotus Sutra by Cien, a high-standing monk of Tang China.
It has two doors and two shelves. The surface of the shrine is covered with tightly-packed pieces of mottled bamboo, with bamboo cross-pieces placed over these and secured with flower-shaped iron rivets. The bamboo, which is as thin as reeds and called suzutake in Japan, grows in southern China. The top of the shrine is formed like a hipped roof with a flat top. The construction of this shrine takes advantage of the natural texture of the bamboo while combining it with the iron rivets to create a decorative feel. Overall, this work possesses an elegance befitting its role as a shrine for the storage of valuable sutra scrolls.

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