Important Cultural PropertyPortable Reliquary Shrine with Seed Syllable Mandala

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  • 黒漆小龕 首掛駄都種子曼荼羅
  • 1 piece
  • Black lacquered wood with pigment / Bronze (mirror)
  • H 30.3
  • Nanbokucho period/Shitoku 4(1387)
  • Nara National Museum
  • 954(工197)

  This is a flat and shallow miniature shrine with double doors on the front. Hanging rings are attached on both sides of the top panel for wearing around neck. An intermediate plate is fit in a form that can move up and down on a rail (kendon) and a mirror regarded as a moon ring (gachirin) is placed in the center of the surface. The sarira and the first Sanskrit alphabet representing Dainichi in the Womb World, A ji, made from bronze with gilding are held in a hole opened in the center of the mirror. The mirror is placed on a lotus pedestal and casts light around. When the mirror is removed, a piece of paper, which indicates that this cabinet was made in Shitoku 4 (1387), is stored in a hollow for sarira on the intermediate plate. On the four edges of the piece of paper, four small round papers with Sanskrit seed syllable representing deities in the Diamond World written in ink are attached and sarira being in the center is regarded as a Dainichi in the Diamond World. In conjunction with the A ji in the hole for sarira, it seems that sarira was regarded as Dainichi of the Diamond and Womb World. A Mandala of the Diamond World was drawn on the back of the intermediate plate and a Mandala of the Womb World was drawn on the back wall that appears when the plate is removed. Fudō Myōō (Skt. Acala) and two child attendants on the observer’s right and Gozanze Myōō (Skt. Trailokyavijaya) on the observer’s left were drawn on the doors. This article was handed down to the Kakuanji Temple in Nara. This temple was restored by the priest Eison (1201–1290) from the Saidaiji Temple, who preached belief in sarira in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and the strong influence of belief in sarira by Eison can be seem in this cabinet, which has a strong sense of esoteric Buddhism.