sharitou 舎利塔
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
A stupa-shaped container for relics *shari 舎利 that may itself be set within a small shrine shari zushi 舎利厨子. The relics contained were ostensibly the bones of Buddha, (although often small ball-shaped semi-precious stones were substituted) and are thus Buddhist, but they were also important in Shinto/Buddhist syncretism *honji suijaku 本地垂迹. They were particularly significant during the revival of traditional Buddhism in the Kamakura period when the *Nichiren 日蓮 sect emphasized the importance of the Lotus Sutra HOKEKYOU 法華経 and the worship of the Buddha *Shaka 釈迦. This trend continued though the Muromach period, although the sharitou frequently became associated with the cults of Shinto *kami 神 rather than those of purely Buddhist deities. Reliquaries were at times placed in Shinto sanctuaries, or made the object of veneration of the kami, to indicate the authority of the kami as representatives of the Buddha and as symbols of the Buddhist counterpart of the deity *honjibutsu 本地仏. Several of the finest reliquaries have sculptures of Kasuga's 春日 sacred animal, the deer, as part of them. Particularly fine examples are preserved at Houryuuji 法隆寺 in Nara and at Oumi Jinguu 近江神宮 in Shiga prefecture, this latter example having originally been excavated from the site of Suufukuji 崇福寺. There were confraternities dedicated to the worship of relics sharikou 舎利講 that sought from them material and spiritual good fortune.


*bussharitou 仏舎利塔

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