Shumisen 須弥山
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Mt. Sumeru. Also called Myoukousan 妙高山 or Kinzan 金山. A great mountain that, according to ancient Indian cosmology, towers above the center of the world, and is the meeting place or dwelling place of the gods. The idea of Sumeru is common to Buddhism and Hinduism, tut the iconography associated with it is different. According to Buddhist tradition, the mountain is surrounded by seas and continents; under these lie the hells, and the realm of the hungry ghosts. The sun and moon revolve around the mountain, and above lie the realms 'pure form' and 'pure land'. Indra *Taishakuten 帝釈天 is said to reside on the peak of Mt. Sumeru, which is approximately. 588,000 km above sea level. The mountain-sides rise in a series of steps, forming a square pyramid shape; on each side lives one of the four heavenly kings *shitennou 四天王. Around Sumeru are nine mountains and eight oceans *kusen hakkai-ishi 九山八海石, and four continents; human beings are said to live on the continent known as Enbudai 閻浮堤 to the south of the mountain. Mt. Sumeru is portrayed in Buddhist paintings, or modeled in the form of a dais pedestal, shumiza 須弥座, or platform *shumidan 須弥壇. From the Nara period, it was recreated in Japanese gardens *shumisenshiki iwagumi 須弥山式石組. The oldest representation of Mt. Semuru in Japan is thought to be a model in the southern garden of the imperial palace, brought form *Kudara 百済 in 612. In Nara Kokuritsu Asuka Shiryoukan 奈良国立飛鳥資料館 (The National Center for Asuka Material ) is a three-tiered rock with reliefs suggesting mountains, though to represent Mt. Sumeru, and to have been used as a garden fountain.


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