Cover: Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan, from Harvard University PressCover: Jewel in the Ashes in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 188

Jewel in the Ashes

Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan

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$52.00 • £37.95 • €46.80

ISBN 9780674002456

Publication: May 2000


420 pages

6 x 9 inches

9 ills., 3 tables

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs


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This study addresses the relationship between the veneration of Buddha relics and the appropriation of power in early medieval Japan. Focusing on the ninth to the fourteenth centuries, it analyzes the ways in which relics functioned as material media for the interactions of Buddhist clerics, the imperial family, lay aristocrats, and warrior society and explores the multivocality of relics by dealing with specific historical examples. Brian Ruppert argues that relics offered means for reinforcing or subverting hierarchical relations. The author’s critical literary and anthropological analyses attest to the prominence of relic veneration in government, in lay practice associated with the maintenance of the imperial line and warrior houses, and in the promotion of specific Buddhist sects in Japan.