bonkyou 梵篋
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
A box for sutras. Indian sutras were written on long, narrow palm leaves. The leaves were stacked one top of the other, with boards placed in between each leaf. The boards and leaves were then tied together to create a box-like form. A few Indian palm-leaf manuscripts date as early as the 9c. As a *jimotsu 持物 (hand-held attribute for Buddhist images), the bonkyou may be held by *Senju Kannon 千手観音 (Thousand-armed Kannon) and the bodhisattva *Monju 文殊. In the 13c painting of Monju from Enryakuji 延暦寺 in Shiga prefecture, a bonkyou is balanced on the lotus flower in his left hand. A similar form is the *houkyou 宝篋, which may be used interchangeably with bonkyou but this term implies a box for rolled sutras as opposed to the box for flat sutra pages on leaves. A box for sutras was sometimes carried on the back of a yamabushi 山伏 or mountain priest in the ascetic practice of shugendou 修験道 (see *En no gyouja 役行者). This type of box is also called a bonkyou.


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