Tang dynasty (618-907)
Overall: 50.2 x 40.4 cm (19 3/4 x 15 7/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1929.983
This octagonal stone pillar, with Buddhist figures carved on its eight sides, is part of a dharani pillar commissioned by Buddhist believers to pay tribute to the dead. The eight inscriptions seen here are eulogies dedicated by eight families to their deceased family members. Dharanis were a form of spell in Esoteric Buddhism said to possess supernatural power when being recited or carried and were incorporated into sutras, such as the Buddha Usnisa Vijaya Dharani Sutra. Dharani pillars, also called sutra pillars, became the dominant bearers of Usnisa Vijaya Dharani which supposedly helped sentient beings prolong life and destroy hardships of the eternal cycle of life and the realms of hell.
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