Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan, edited by Karen M. Gerhart, is a multidisciplinary examination of rituals featuring women, in which significant attention is paid to objects produced for and utilized in these rites as a lens through which larger cultural concerns, such as gender politics, the female body, and the materiality of the ritual objects, are explored. The ten chapters encounter women, rites, and ritual objects in many new and interactive ways and constitute a pioneering attempt to combine ritual and gendered analysis with the study of objects.
Contributors include: Anna Andreeva, Monica Bethe, Patricia Fister, Sherry Fowler, Karen M. Gerhart, Hank Glassman, Naoko Gunji, Elizabeth Morrissey, Chari Pradel, Barbara Ruch, Elizabeth Self.
Featuring the renowned seventh-century gilt-bronze Śākyamuni (Shaka) triad at the Hōryūji,
Constructing the Dharma King reveals how the impression of a Buddhist image evolved in Yamato, Japan, from the indistinct sense of divine otherness at the early stage of the transmission to more concrete ideals and values concerning families, authority, and kingship.
According to the accompanying inscription, the Kashiwade, a low-ranking bureaucratic clan, commissioned the triad to commemorate the deaths of its family members. Considering the triad as an endpoint of a dynamic political re-envisioning spearheaded by Soga no Umako (d. 626) and the members of the Yamato sovereignty, Akiko Walley argues that the Kashiwade constructed the Shaka triad not simply as a private act of devotion, but a pivotal political act that demonstrated their allegiance and loyalty. This publication contends that the appearance of the Shaka triad was chosen to echo the new vision of a “Dharma King” that was manifested in Prince Umayato as the political persona orchestrated by Umako, and in the preceding Shaka triad statue at Asukadera produced by Umako and his closest allies. In the course of discussion, this book also reexamines the key points of debate surrounding this statue, including the reliability of the accompanying inscription, identity of its makers, and the statue’s ties to the sculptural trends on the Asian continent.