Download The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan by Karen Margaret Gerhart PDF

By Karen Margaret Gerhart

This research is the 1st within the English language to discover the methods medieval eastern sought to beat their experience of powerlessness over loss of life. by way of getting to either non secular perform and formality gadgets utilized in funerals within the fourteenth and 15th centuries, it seeks to supply a brand new realizing of the connection among the 2. Karen Gerhart seems to be at how those unique gadgets and rituals functioned by way of reading case reviews culled from written documents, diaries, and illustrated handscrolls, and through analyzing surviving funerary constructions and painted and sculpted images.

The paintings is split into components, starting with compelling depictions of funerary and memorial rites of a number of individuals of the aristocracy and armed forces elite. the second one half addresses the cloth tradition of dying and analyzes items intended to sequester the lifeless from the dwelling: displays, shrouds, coffins, carriages, wood fences. this is often via an exam of implements (banners, canopies, censers, musical tools, providing vessels) utilized in memorial rituals. the ultimate bankruptcy discusses many of the varieties of and makes use of for photographs of the deceased, targeting the way in their reveal, the consumers who commissioned them, and the kinds of rituals played in entrance of them. Gerhart delineates the excellence among items created for a unmarried funeral―and intended to be used in shut proximity to the physique, comparable to coffins―and these, resembling banners, meant to be used in a number of funerals and different Buddhist services.

Richly distinctive and generously illustrated, Gerhart introduces a brand new viewpoint on items regularly both ignored by means of students or valued essentially for his or her creative characteristics. by means of putting them within the context of formality, visible, and fabric tradition, she unearths how rituals and formality gadgets jointly helped to convenience the dwelling and enhance the deceased’s state of affairs within the afterlife in addition to to lead and cement societal norms of sophistication and gender. not just does her booklet make an important contribution within the amazing volume of recent info that it introduces, it additionally makes a massive theoretical contribution to boot in its interweaving of the pursuits and techniques of the artwork historian and the historian of faith. through at once enticing and tough methodologies suitable to ritual experiences, fabric tradition, and artwork background, it alterations as soon as and for all our mind set in regards to the visible and spiritual tradition of premodern Japan.

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The coffin was then moved to the cremation grounds (kigan), where libations of tea (tencha) and hot water (tentô) were offered. The final rite was the lighting of the funeral pyre (ako, hinko). Presumably all of these symbolic actions were performed for the elite layperson in Japan, although the sources I consulted contained no mention of individual consultation with the deceased in the lay rites. 13 The situation was in fact more complex. The records I examined show that the funerals of many elite lay individuals, particularly those in the fourteenth century, did not strictly follow the directives of traditional Zen funerals, but combined vestiges of earlier funerary traditions with the newer elements, resulting in a decidedly eclectic approach to funerary ritual.

Wooden grave markers (sotoba). Source: Tôji to Kôbô daishi shinkô: Tôji mieidô, chikai to inori no fûkei, ed. and comp. Tôji (Kyôôgokokuji) Hômotsukan (Tokyo: Benridô, 2001), after image on p. 102. 74 The grave was said to be particularly excellent, but the text does not describe the marker other than to refer to it as a stone pagoda or tower; nor are we told whether the enclosure was made of wood or stone. It is likely, however, that the grave monument was either a fivetiered stone stupa (gorintô)75 or another pagoda-like stupa (hôkyôintô),76 because both types were popular in the fourteenth century.

In general, texts thought to provide strong ªmagicº were desirable, regardless of their sectarian origins. 12, a special talisman against death pollution (monoimi fuda) was stood up inside the small gate (not the main gate) of the Nakahara residence. The talisman, made of Japanese cedar, was almost three feet tall (3 shaku). A Death in the Fourteenth Century 27 priest wrote the Sanskrit seed syllable (J. 2). 19. Presumably, the danger would have diminished by then. 19), the deceased's wife, Gozen Onkata, took the tonsure and became a Buddhist nun in the ªleaving-thehouse ceremonyº (shukke no gi).

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