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gasshou@‡¶
KEY WORD :@1 architecture / general terms,@2 art history /sculptures@
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1@The triangular frame created by joining a pair of cruck-like members *sasu ³Žñ, together to support the ridge purlin *munagi “–Ø, of a thatched roof. The roof shape is thought to resemble hands pressed together in prayer. Sometimes the sasu were merely lashed together at the apex with straw rope. Sometimes they were joined with a mortise and tenon joint. The base of the triangular frame was formed by a transverse beam *hari —À, the most common form of roof structure for thatched vernacular dwellings *minka –¯‰Æ, during the Edo period. Gasshou were used in Toyama prefecture from the second quarter of the 18c, and also in Tokyo, Saitama and Gunma prefectures. The term is also used in most parts of Hokuriku –k—¤, Kinki ‹ß‹E, parts of Shikoku Žl‘ and Kyuushuu ‹ãB and Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures in western Honshuu –{B.@see *gasshou-zukuri ‡¶‘¢.

2@Lit. handclasp (Sk: anjali). A mudra or hand gesture *in ˆó formed by bringing together the palms of both hands, fingers extended, held level with the chest. In India this was the traditional manner of showing respect to elders, and it came to be used by Buddhists for worshipping Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In Buddhist iconography this mudra appeared frequently with various bodhisattvas such as *Fugen •Œ« (Sk: Samantabhadra) and variant forms of *Kannon ŠÏ‰¹. It was rarely used with Tathagatas *nyorai ”@—ˆ who, considering the Buddha to be the supreme form of existence, did not worship other beings. The Tathagatas *Shaka Žß‰Þ and Tahou ‘½•ó (Sk: Prabhutaratna) were exceptions, appearing in the *Hokke mandara –@‰Ø™Ö䶗…, for they were often depicted with their hands clasped together in the form of this mudra. This is derived from an episode in the HOKEKYOU –@‰ØŒo (Lotus Sutra), according to which, when Shaka was expounding the Lotus Sutra an immense stupa containing Tahou arose out of the earth, opened, and Tahou seated inside, offered half his seat to Shaka. The gasshou was used because in this context Tathagatas showed respect to one another. Popular in North Wei China, this iconography was not very common in Japan and only a few examples are known, such as the painting at Hokekyouji –@‰ØŒoŽ›, Chiba prefecture, dated 1335. Other examples are the ittou ryouson ˆê“ƒ—¼‘¸ (one stupa, two deities) images of the *Nichiren “ú˜@ sect . In Esoteric Buddhist iconography, on the other hand, numerous variations of this mudra evolved, eventually reaching twelve in number. The most important are as follows: kongou gasshou ‹à„‡¶ (adamantine handclasp), formed by interlocking the tips of the fingers of both hands, with the right thumb covering the left thumb; renge gasshou ˜@‰Ø‡¶ (lotus handclasp), in which the palms and fingers of both hands are pressed firmly together; and koshin gasshou ‹•S‡¶ (handclasp with an empty center; Sk: samputanjali), in which a small space is left between the two palms. When the koshin gasshou was used for the two principal hands of images of variant forms of Kannon, there were instances of a precious stone being inserted in the space between the two palms. This practice was especially common in Nepal and Tibet, but there are a few examples in Japan in which the stone still remains; one such example is the image of *Fukuukenjaku Kannon •s‹ó㮍õŠÏ‰¹ (Sk: Amoghapasa) enshrined in the *Hokkedou –@‰Ø“° at Toudaiji “Œ‘厛.
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