Tachibana Shrine

The Lady Tachibana Shrine at Hōryū-ji; height of shrine 263 centimetres (8 ft 8 in); height of Amida Nyorai 34.0 centimetres (13.4 in), of Kannon (right) 28.9 centimetres (11.4 in), of Seishi (left) 28.8 centimetres (11.3 in) (National Treasure)[1][2]

The Tachibana Shrine (橘夫人厨子, Tachibana-fujin no zushi), also referred to as the Lady Tachibana Shrine, is a miniature shrine owned by the Hōryū-ji temple complex of Nara Prefecture, Japan. Its precise date of construction is unknown, but it is thought to have been created a little later than its counterpart the Tamamushi Shrine. The sculptures inside are dated to the years around 710 (the end of the Asuka period and start of the Nara period) and have been designated a National Treasure.[1][3][4]

History

The precise date of the shrine is uncertain, but it is generally placed at the end of the Asuka period (710). A terminus ante quem is provided by the first documentary evidence for its existence, mention in the temple inventory of 747, the Hōryū-ji garan engi narabini ruki shizai-chō (法隆寺伽藍縁起并流記資材帳), which includes "two items taking the form of a palace building, one with a design of a Thousand Buddhas in repoussé metalwork, the other with a statue of gilt bronze" (宮殿像貳具 一具金泥押出千佛像 一具金泥銅像); the former is understood to be the Tamamushi Shrine, the latter the Tachibana Shrine.[5][6] A fuller description is given by the monk Kenshin (顕真) in his Shōtoku Taishi-den shiki (聖徳太子伝私記), also referred to as the Kokon mokuroku shō (古今目録抄), his 1230s account of Shōtoku Taishi, prince, regent, culture hero closely associated with the early promotion of Buddhism in Japan, and founder of the temple. Kenshin refers to the shrine's black lacquered pedestal, floor of gilt bronze waves, with lotuses rising up from it, and to the three sculptures placed upon them; attributes its commissioning to Lady Tachibana, the mother of Empress Kōmyō (the shrine may have been bestowed upon Hōryū-ji by Kōmyō on her mother's death in 733);[7] and locates it to the west of the Tamamushi Shrine. The Kondō nikki (金堂日記) similarly refers to a west shrine with an Amida Triad - and it is understood that the two shrines were located on the great altar of the Kondō for many centuries, until their modern relocation to the Gallery of Temple Treasures.[2][8]

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