Nippon Teien Gakkaishi
Online ISSN : 2186-0025
Print ISSN : 0919-4592
ISSN-L : 0919-4592
Articles
The Mt. Sumeru Stone of Asuka
Ataru SOTOMURA
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Keywords: Asuka, Shumisen, Sumeru
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2009 Volume 2009 Issue 21 Pages 21_1-21_14

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Abstract

A widely supported new hypothesis argues that the so-called Mt. Sumeru Stone (7 century CE) of Asuka was a device for a ritual, in which the foreign barbarians swore obedience to the Imperial court of Japan at the time. The ritual is believed to have been a sacred or magical ritual related to Indra and the Four Heavenly Kings. Quoting the Buddhist scripture Abhidharma-kosa-sastra, the advocates of this theory even explain that the morphological common points between the stone and the so-called Mt. Sumeru Drawing (8 century CE) on a petal of the throne of the Great Buddha Statue in Todaiji temple indicate that the stone really symbolizes Mt. Sumem or the central mountain in a uddhist world. However, this hypothesis is unacceptable either philologically or iconographically. Carefully analyzing the contents of Nihonshoki, Chinese historical texts, Abhidharma-kosa-sastra and other texts, this paper suggests that the stone should be regarded as a device, like the circuses held by the order of Emperor Yangdi (r. 604-617 CE) of the Sui dynasty of China, to demonstrate the cultural power of the state to the foreigners. Furthermore, this paper illustrates that the stone has no clear relationship with Abhidharma-kosa-sastra, although the drawing likely have been made on the basis of the sastra. More studies are needed to clarify the exact meaning of the design of the stone.

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© 2009 The Academic Society of Japanese Garden
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