|Shichibutsu Yakushi 七仏薬師
|KEY WORD : art history / iconography
|Lit. seven Buddhas of healing. Seven manifestations of *Yakushi 薬師 or the Master of Healing, said to reside in realms to the east of our world. They were thought to be efficacious in appeasing the revengeful spirits of fallen political figures implicated in social calamities. The names in Japanese are as follows (in order of progressive distance from our world): Zenmyoushou kichijouou 善名称吉祥王, Hougatsu chigon kouon jizaiou 宝月智厳光音自在王, Konjiki houkou myougyou jouju 金色宝光妙行成就, Muyu saishou kichijou 無憂最勝吉祥, Hokkai raion 法海雷音, Hokkai shoue yuge jinzuu 法海勝彗遊戯神通, and Yakushi rurikou 薬師瑠璃光 (this last corresponding to the full name of Yakushi). First mentioned in the fourth and latest extant Chinese translation in 707 of the YAKUSHIKYOU 薬師経 (Sk:Bhaisajyaguru sutra, or Scripture of the Master of Healing) a text devoted to the cult of the Buddha Yakushi. In Japan they are represented either by seven independent images or, more frequently, by six or seven figurines attached to the halo of Yakushi sculptures. Popularity and worship of the Seven peaked in the late 8c and 9c. Today the ritual service dedicated to them Shichibutsu Yakushi-no-hou 七仏薬師の法; first recorded to have been performed by Tendai prelate Ennin 円仁 in 850 survives only in the Tendai 天台 sect, where it is counted as one of the four major rituals shika daihou 四箇大法 of the Mountain School, Sanmon 山門 or Mt. Hiei 比叡 branch.
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