百万塔・百万塔陀羅尼 One of the “One Million Pagodas” (Hyakumanto) and Invocation
Nara period (710–794)
Japanese cypress (hinoki) and Cleyera ochnacea (sakaki)
a. H. 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm) b. H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); L. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm) c. H. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Gift of Benjamin Strong, 1930
Not on view
This miniature wooden pagoda (tō) is one of one million (hyakuman) commissioned by the Empress Shōtoku (718–770) and distributed to Japan’s ten major temples. It originally was created to commemorate and offer thanks to Buddhist deities for their help in suppressing the Emi Rebellion in 764. This example belonged to the temple Hōryūji in Nara, where three thousand of the one million pagodas were given away in 1908 to those contributing to an appeal for funds. Each pagoda was painted white and contained a printed Buddhist text called a darani (Sanskrit: dharani), or invocation. The text displayed here came from the pagoda on known as the Jishin’in darani, the invocation is one of four from the sacred text Mukujōkōkyō (Sanskrit: Vimala Mirbhasa Sutra) found in the pagodas. These printed texts are among the oldest known in the world. They are likely to have been printed from bronze plates, but some scholars maintain that they were printed from woodblocks.
Benjamin Strong , (until 1930; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1998.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Written Image: Japanese Calligraphy and Paintings from the Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Collection," October 1, 2002–March 2, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14, 2004–June 13, 2004.
Artist: Date: late 11th to early 12th century Accession Number: 2015.300.251a, b Date: late 11th to early 12th centuryMedium: Lacquered and gilded Japanese cypressAccession: 2015.300.251a, bOn view in:Gallery 224