H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.268.150ab)
This miniature wooden pagoda, which was originally painted white, is identical to the thousands displayed today at the Treasure House of Horyuji temple in Nara. Historical information on these small pagodas is found in two sources: the Shoku Nihongi (History of Japan Continued, 797) and the Todaiji yoroku (Chronicles of Todaiji, 1134). According to these documents, Empress Koken, who reigned from 749 to 758 and again from 764 to 770 as Empress Shotoku, ordered the production of one million tiny scrolls printed with magical Buddhist incantations, each one enshrined in a miniature pagoda. The project, commissioned as an act of atonement, was completed in 770, at which time 100,000 scrolls and pagodas were distributed to each of the ten major Buddhist temples in Nara. Surprisingly, only Horyuji still houses these royal gifts.