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Reliquary in the Shape of a Stupa

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
This silver container is in the shape of a burial structure known as a stupa. Stupas take very different forms in Buddhism’s many regions, but they always have a spire of multiple parasols rising from the center. Because of their funerary function, stupas (and stupa-shape containers) became emblems of the enlightened Buddhist’s passage out of the earthly realm. The pictures on the sides of this piece depict the previous lives of the historical Buddha, and an inscription in Chinese indicates that a monk and his mother commissioned the deluxe object to contain a relic from a Buddhist leader.
MEDIUM Silver
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 986 C.E.
    DYNASTY Song Dynasty
    PERIOD Song Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS height: 14 in. (35.6 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS The inscription may be translated as: The monk Congcheng, who expounds the Vimalakirti Sutra at the Weiguo Monastery on Zuo Avenue, and his mother Madame Zhao [commissioned] to be manufactured one silver reliquary stupa [in the form] of the Stupa of the Abundant Treasures Buddha (Prabhutaratna), with the wish that: Those nearby may take Maitreya as their kin Those afar may attend Him at the Dragon Flower Tree That all sentient beings in the experiential realms May together attain the fruit of becoming a Buddha Recorded on the twenty-fourth day of the eighth lunar-month in the third year of the Yongxi reign period of the Great Song dynasty (30 September 986), by Li Lingxun, maker of the stupa.
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2012.5a-d
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild and anonymous gift, by exchange
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Reliquary in the Shape of a Stupa, 986 C.E. Silver, height: 14 in. (35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild and anonymous gift, by exchange , 2012.5a-d. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2012.5_side1_PS6.jpg)
    IMAGE side, 2012.5_side1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2013
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     <em>Reliquary in the Shape of a Stupa</em>, 986 C.E. Silver, height: 14 in. (35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Walter N. Rothschild and anonymous gift, by exchange
, 2012.5a-d. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2012.5_side1_PS6.jpg)