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Introduction to Korean Buddhism

09. Ornamented Reliquaries for Enshrining Śarīra (Sarijamgeum) and other sacred articles

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Writer Jogye Date07 Apr 2020 Read503 Comment0

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09. Ornamented Reliquaries for Enshrining Śarīra (Sarijamgeum) and other sacred articles


The ornamented reliquaries which enshrine śarīra generally refers to containers that store a Buddha’s or a great master\'s relics or śarīra. Before enshrining the śarīra, the container is majestically and sacredly ornamented. In fact, the ornamentation container enshrining the śarīra, and the process of enshrining this container within the pagoda is generally included in the ritual. Within the outer protective container, called the Hap, is a jar containing the actual relic.

The śarīra reliquaries created in time of the Silla Dynasty were made out of glass or crystal, while Goryeo Dynasty śarīra reliquaries were most often made from various metals.


Since the time when Buddhist sculptures were first created, sacred articles such as śarīra and Buddhist scriptures were enshrined within them. More generally, these articles are enshrined within sculptures of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arahats, although in the past, these sacred articles were only enshrined in Buddha sculptures. Additionally, sacred articles were also enshrined within statutes when the statues were being repaired or bronzed. These sacred articles often give invaluable information regarding the historicity of the statue, the religious atmosphere of the era, and the identity and qualifications of the artist.



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