Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tachibana-dera Temple

It is known through archaeolgoical excavation that the temple complex was similar to that of Shitennoji Temple. Most of the temples of this period faced south, but this one unusually faced east, with a middle gate, stupa, golden hall, and lecture hall arranged linearly from east to west. The hole for the central stupa pillar has a unique structure similar to that of Horyuji Temple, with supporting pillars on three sides.

The date it was constructed is unknown, but according to the Shotoku Taishi denreki, suspicious signs accompanying Prince Shotoku's lecture here on a Buddhist text called the Shrimaladevi-sutra led him to build a temple at this location. It is counted as one of the seven temples built by Prince Shotoku. From the patterns of the excavated roofing tiles, it was learned that a small temple building (perhaps a golden hall) was built here in the first half of the seventh century, which was expanded to a large temple in the latter half of the same century.

If you look closely you will notice the symbolic swastika in the center of the cornice. This is an Indian sanskrit symbol. When facing left, it is the omote (front) manji, representing love and mercy. Facing right, it represents strength and intelligence, and is called the ura (rear) manji. Balanced manji are often found at the beginning and end of Buddhist scriptures (outside India)

Prince Shotoku

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