Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Visualization of śarīra: A Reexamination of the Reliefs on a Tang Stone Reliquary found in Lantian

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Willow, First Floor

This paper is an attempt to reconsider and clarify the motifs in low relief on the stone reliquary found in Lantian County, Shaanxi Province in China. The scenes around the four panels on the reliquary follow the process of the death of Śākyamuni Buddha (nirvāṇa), but some details in the images indicate that they reference the Buddhist encyclopedia “The Other Side of Scriptures and Precepts” (Jing Lu Yi Xiang). The four sides of the reliquary also showcase the new narrative and symbolism of the Three Bodies of Buddha: Sambhogakāya, Dharmakāya, Nirmanakāya (Roushen, Fashen, Huashen).


These sacred scenes were not frequently seen in medieval China, but reveal the connection between Chinese Buddhism and the early Indian legends as well as the Gandhāran Buddhist art. At the same time, the specific visual representation of the nirvāṇa can be reinterpreted with multifaceted meanings in various textual and ritual contexts. This investigation of Lantian Reliquary analyzes the dynamic dimensions behind the movement of Buddhist images and rituals between Central Asian and Tang China. The dialogue between image, text, and practice motivated the generation of an appropriated visual representation and created new and more complex versions of relic veneration across medieval Asia.

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2 - Visualization of śarīra: A Reexamination of the Reliefs on a Tang Stone Reliquary found in Lantian



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