Siva Sundaresvara on Kailasa vehicle, 3th evening procession; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Sundaresvara on Kailasa (Ravananugraha) vehicle, 3rd evening procession; Keywords: sundaresvara, vehicles, processions
Wall painting of Minaksi's Conquest of the Directions, inside temple; Minaksi temple; Uncompleted wall-painting, in corridor north of Golden Lotus Tank, inside temple complex; Keywords: deities, minaksi, paintings
Minaksi comes out from temple gate, 6th evening procession; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: minaksi, priests, processions
The torii gate on the left in this image marks the presence of a shrine and its kami. Such shrines by the side of a street or a road (or in the middle of a field, or elsewhere) are common in Japan. This particular one is on a quiet back street in the Yamagishi neighborhood of Morioka. Throughout the day, passing residents stop at the shrine, bowing twice and clapping their hands twice, to summon the attention of the kami, then standing quietly with clasped hands and head bowed in prayer or in thanksgiving. -- The stone torii on the right marks the path that leads up the stone stairs to a shrine at the top of the hill, overlooking the Yamagishi district.
The rising form of a pagoda is seen as a symbolic statement of human aspiration, a path, a joining of this world and the world of the absolute. The metal spire that rises from the top roof of the pagoda is called the sorin. The shaft of the sorin is surrounded by nine rings and at the very top is the hoshu, representing the sacred jewel of Buddhist wisdom. The pagoda, often a memorial to a saintly person, is a Chinese adaptation of the Indian stupa.
Siva's gold purse, displayed by Ramani, carried in palanquin around temple. The Executive Officer of the temple, B. Raja, stands to the left.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Ramani (priest) holds up Siva's gold purse (polkiri), E.O. Mr. Raja to left; taken outside west gopuram as purse made procession on Chittrai Street. Tiruvilaiyatal no. 52.; Keywords: processions, lilas
Manikkavacakar of Tiruvathavur, decorated for 8th evening procession. The image of Manikkavacakar travels from his temple ten miles away to participate in the festival events.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; in Kalyana-mandapa, waiting for procession to begin; Keywords: nayanmars, decoration
Subrahmanya of Tirupparankundram, decorated for 8th evening procession. The Subrahmanyam image has also come from its home temple, on the outskirts of greater Madurai, to take part in the festival.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: subrahmanya, decoration, tirupparankundram
Priests place prabha (ornamental arch) over Siva Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle, completing decorations for processio; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: sundaresvara, vehicles, priests, decoration
Deities in Seven-color Vehicle, in Kalyana Mandapa, prior to start of 11th evening procession.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; prior to 11th evening procession; Keywords: deities, vehicles
Siva Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: sundaresvara, vehicles
Shops in Minaksi temple complex, along Viravasantaraya Mandapa passageway on east side of temple complex.; Minaksi temple; Keywords: temple
This image shows the interior of the Hall for Memorial Tablets, the Hall of Eternal Light, at Muroji, built in the early 20th century. A monthly memorial service for Kukai is held here and memorial services for residents of the local village are celebrated here. -- The different traditions of Buddhism, such as esoteric Buddhism or Pure Land, as well as different schools, such as Tendai and Shingon, sometimes employ differing ritual objects in their ceremonies, objects that have grown out of differing historic traditions, some based in very ancient Indian rituals, some in Tibetan Buddhism, etc. Nonetheless, in this image we can see ritual objects that are common across various schools. These include, most basically, before the altar, an incense burner, candlesticks, and flower vases, objects found before any Buddhist altar, including home altars. Other objects seen here and common across traditions include the "bell" on the right, struck to announce the opening of services, the square area for the celebrants defined by the low railing, the canopies (often stylized lotus blossoms constructed of wood or metal) or banners over altars and images, small square tables flanking the cushion of the celebrant, tables used to hold ritual objects or offerings, a low table directly in front of the celebrant that may hold offerings and serve as sutra lectern. To the right here we see part of the rim of a taiko, a large, powerful drum, one of a variety of musical instruments often employed in ceremonies.
This is a small, local shrine on a hillside above the Yamagishi neighborhood of Morioka. -- Many of the elements seen here are common to all shrines. The two sculptures are koma inu, shrine dogs -- guardian figures. In this instance, they are foxes, indicating that this is an inari shrine, one associated with the kami of rice. Other shrines often have guardian figures that closely resemble the mythological beasts known as Chinese lions, or semi-human figures that reflect the Nio statues of Buddhist temple gates. Along with the red paint evident at this particular shrine, these are elements indicative of the merging of elements of Shinto and Buddhism. E.g., indigenous Shinto preference probably would be for unpainted wood, such as is seen at the shrine at Ise, and the red paint here is probably indicative of the influence of Chinese and Korean Buddhist architecture. -- The rice straw rope and its zig-zags of folded paper denote the place where a kami , a spirit, resides. The cloth pulls hanging down in front of the rice straw rope have bells attached at their top - one would pull on the cloth or rope pulls to produce a sound in the bells to summon the attention of the kami, in order to offer a prayer or give thanks.
This is a photograph of the Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, at Todaiji in Nara. Taken in early December, with mist and fog in the chilly late afternoon air, it conveys a sense of mood of time and place. It was taken from inside the outer precinct of the temple, looking out through the gate - i.e., this is the gate viewed from inside the temple compound. -- In retaliation for support of the Minamoto clan by armed monks from Todaiji, at the end of the Genpei civil war, the Taira clan burned the compound at Todaiji to the ground in 1180. When the Minamoto emerged victorious, they vowed to rebuild the Todaiji compound and did so by the end of the 12th century. -- The other buildings in the Todaiji compound have been damaged by fire or earthquakes over the centuries and most have been rebuilt in different styles. The Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, alone, remains in its original form, that which was built in the late 12th century.
The children here are arriving at a shrine in late October for the celebration of Shichigosan -- Seven - five - three Day. On this day, girls who are seven or three years old and boys who are five are brought to their shrine in their best dress or in traditional dress for prayers for their well being, for a blessing. -- This particular Shichigosan celebration was on October 28, 2000, and was at the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The Hachiman Shrine is the primary Shinto shrine of Morioka, which is in Iwate Prefecture, on the Pacific side of northern most Honshu.
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Kamakura, a representation of Amida Buddha, was cast in 1252. The wooden building that surrounded it was swept away by a tidal wave, but the figure of the Buddha was unharmed and it has withstood repeated earthquakes, fires, and other calamities. It is 13.5 m (about 44 feet) high, making it the second largest statue of the Buddha in Japan, after the Daibutsu of Todaiji, Nara. Built without imperial or shogunal support, completed entirely with donations from the faithful, it is all the more impressive in its heroic scale.
When an infant is one month old, it is taken by its parents to the local shrine for miyamairi, a birth ritual. By this ritual, the infant becomes a member of the shrine and is placing under the protection of the kami, the guardian spirit of the shrine. Traditionally, this is an infant's first trip out of its home.
The so-called Phoenix Hall at the temple, Byodoin, in Uji. Built in 1053 by Fujiwara Yorimichi, the Phoenix Hall contains the Amida sculpture carved by Jocho, and the compound attempts to represent on earth the western paradise of Pure Land Buddhism. This image shows the Amida Hall as seen from directly across the pond directly in front of the hall. Because of the placement of the pond, the hall cannot be approached directly from the front, perhaps a physical assertion of the Heian aesthetic preference for indirection.
This is a view looking down the mountain path from the porch of the Hall of Eternal Light. The image conveys a sense of the quiet beauty of the temple's isolated location in a crytomeria forest, in the mountains of Nara Prefecture, southeast of Nara City.
This is the computer classroom in a middle school in Japan. The computers are used to complete assignments from other classes, as well as for instruction in computer class, per se, so that the students are learning to employ computers across the curriculum.
This image shows the center altar in the Miroku Hall at Muroji. The sculpture on the altar is a carved wooden figure of the Miroku Bosatsu, a sculpture that is perhaps 3 feet high, dating from the 8th century. Dr. Fowler points out that this sculpture almost certainly was not the original sculpture on the center altar, which would have been a figure of the Miroku Buddha, rather than a bosatsu. -- Although some of the ritual objects in Buddhist temples vary somewhat from one sect to another, some objects are used in all sects. In this image we see the cushion on which the celebrant would sit in formal Japanese sitting posture, knees bent, sitting on the ankles. The rounded bronze object to the right is a "bell," with its open end at the top; it is struck on the outside with a padded stick, which produces the rich, resonant sound that accompanies and punctuates Buddhist chants. Also evident are three items found at all Buddhists altars, namely, flowers, incense, and light (candles). Often, as here, there also are offerings of fruit.
This image shows a small rectangular pool, surrounded by a stone fence, and the front faÃ§ade of the Main Hall, sometimes referred to as the Initiation hall, beyond it. Both are located on a level area on the side of the hill, up a short flight of stone steps from the level of the kondo. The Kanjodo is used for initiation rites in Esoteric Buddhism. Muroji is associated with Shingon, the esoteric sect founded by the priest Kukai in the 8th century, upon his return from study in China. Shingon is the sect known as the "True Word" sect and is rooted in Tantric Buddhism. Kukai is often referred to by his posthumous name, Kobo Daishi, "Great National Teacher."
This is a view of the front of theMain Hall, the Initiation Hall at Muroji. Like the kondo, it is quite modest in size and is set into its natural setting on the side of the mountain, feeling integrated with its surroundings, rather than feeling imposed upon the setting or apart from it. The hall is symmetrical, being five bays wide and also five bays deep. The front portion of the hall is open, but the rear portion is only to initiates. This edifice has been designated as a National Treasure.
Up a small rise within the compound of Chusonji temple, at Hiraizumi, is this small Shinto shrine, set into the woods. It is very common in Japan to find small Shinto shrines within the grounds of Buddhist temples (e.g., there is a small Shinto shrine on the island in the garden pond at Ryoanji, a Rinzai Zen temple in Kyoto). Shinto and Buddhism are not mutually exclusive in Japanese culture and it is probably true that most Japanese would regard themselves as being both Shinto and Buddhist. -- see also: images of garden, Ryoanji; images in Colorado College Japanese Religion Collection