Sutra Repository

Sutra Repository


late 1100s

Black lacquer over a wood core with hemp cloth covering, gold paint, cut gold leaf, ink, mineral pigments, and metalwork

Overall: 160 cm (63 in.); Painted surface: 100.5 x 39 cm (39 9/16 x 15 3/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1969.130


Fun Fact

The mate to this object is in the Nara National Museum in Japan.


This repository was created to house nearly 300 sutras, or religious scrolls. On the inside of the doors, fierce figures dressed in elaborate armor and decorated with gold and silver foil served as guardians for the scrolls. On the back wall, there are two stylized Sanskrit names: Shaka, the historical Buddha, on the left, and Amida, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, on the right. The whole structure is on a base of two lotuses, symbols of purity. One of a pair of known surviving repositories, these incredibly fine luxury objects might have been commissioned as a way of gaining religious merit during uncertain times.


Sacred Scroll Storage
Veneration of the Word
Buddhist Philosophy
See also

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