bussharitou 仏舎利塔
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
Also called *sharitou 舎利塔. A reliquary in a stupa or pagoda. These could be either miniature or very large wooden pagodas in which relics representing the remains of the Buddha were enshrined, usually in a series of containers, one within the other. The containers were stored beneath the central pillar *shinbashira 心柱, as for example, beneath the main pillar in the Five-storied pagoda (1st decade of the 8c) *Gojuu-no-tou 五重塔 at Houryuuji 法隆寺. Sometimes the remains were stored in the teardrop-shaped form *houjou 方丈, at the top of a five-storied pagoda, in the box-like form *roban 露盤, placed over the peak of the roof. The words *shari 舎利, busshari 仏舎利, or a synonym, yuigyou 遺形, actually meant the ashes of Sakyamuni *Shaka 釈迦, or referred to his bones, for which minuscule spheres of crystal or chalcedony (variegated agate) were substituted. The miniature reliquary was sometimes tubular, tear-drop or onion shaped, *houju 宝珠. Sometimes the reliquary was a five-part form called a *gorintou 五輪塔 or even flask-shaped, hei 瓶. These containers were made of wood or gilt bronze. Later the word bussharitou or sharitou came to mean the klipvary where ashes of saints or venerated priests and patriarchs were preserved. Sometimes only the mortuary tablets of such individuals were installed in the sharitou. Not only were pagoda-shaped reliquaries or pagodas used, but small ordinary temple buildings *shariden 舎利殿, also served as a shrine for cherished relics or remains. The most famous shariden is the one dated 1219 in the East Precinct, Touin 東院, at Houryuuji 法隆寺 in Nara. Ceremonies paying homage to relics, representing those of the Buddha, are held in this hall.

*medou 馬道

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