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honjibutsu@–{’n•§
KEY WORD :@art history / iconography
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The original Buddhist identity of a Shinto deity *kami _. Sometime before the 12c kami came to be matched with Buddhist deities in a manner called *honji suijaku –{’n‚q in which the kami were understood as the local Japanese manifestations *suijaku ‚η‘ of eternal Buddhist figures honjibutsu. The kami were believed to have been sent to save the Japanese people before the arrival of Buddhism and to have been so well tailored to the people's needs that they continued to provide an easier level of access to Buddhist salvation. Occasionally, there is a simple reason for the identification of a Buddhist and a Shinto deity. For example, *Dainichi ‘ε“ϊ, written with the characters "Great Sun," the head, or central deity of the esoteric Buddhist pantheon, was an obvious honjibutsu for Amaterasu Oomikami “VΖ‘ε_ (the Sun Goddess). However this is a rare example of a clear identification, given that kami themselves defy simple definition. Often a single common attribute, a dream or association between both figures is sufficient. In addition a kami can be identified with several different Buddhist deities and even then the identity may be subject to change. The matching process honji suijaku is based on the Chinese benji –{η‘ system used by Zhiyi (Jp: Chigi ’qξΨ, 538-97) in explaining the Lotus Sutra HOKEKYOU –@‰ΨŒo. This system made "origin" hon –{ and "manifestation" jaku η‘ complementary and interpenetrating opposites. An example of this system, occurs in Chapter 11 of the Lotus Sutra Apparition of the Jeweled Stura, wherein the Buddha of Many Jewels tahou ‘½•σ is the "original" Buddha and the teaching buddhas are the "manifestation" buddhas. Buddhism also recognizes incarnations and manifestations: Shoutoku Taishi Ή“Ώ‘ΎŽq (see *Shoutoku Taishizou Ή“Ώ‘ΎŽq‘œ) can be considered an incarnation of *Kannon ŠΟ‰Ή, and Kannon can be considered a manifestation of *Amida ˆ’–ν‘Ι. This was a convenient form in which to cast the relationship of Buddhist and Shinto deities. In turn, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples were also linked. This religious system reached its peak in the 12c and 13c but remained a basic structure of Japanese religion until 1868 when decrees separating the religions shinbutsu bunri _•§•ͺ—£ began to be issued. There are extant sculptures of honjibutsu dating from the late 8c. It is usually not possible to distinguish a honjibutsu of a kami from a simple Buddhist image unless the sculpture bears an inscription or it is known that the image was worshiped as a kami. Shinto paintings began to appear by the late 12c and among them *miya mandara ‹{™ΦδΆ—… show shrine landscapes, with honjibutsu often included as small figures above the shrine buildings or at the top of the painting. As with sculpture, many paintings of honjibutsu may be distinguishable from pure Buddhist paintings only by inscription, provenance, or the presence of a small landscape. Another category of Shinto painting consists of paintings of arrangements of corresponding honji and suijaku forms of the deities. Sculptures of honjibutsu were placed in temples associated with shrines *jinguuji _‹{Ž›, in settings that were not clearly Buddhist or Shinto, and within shrines. In addition to being used in these ways, paintings were also hung in temple buildings during ceremonies to secure the protection of the kami, and were used by lay devotional groups.
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