Find at Japan’s Shiga ruins suggests ancient Buddhist site-cleansing ritual


Share post:

Five coin-filled pots believed to have been used in an ancient Buddhist ritual to purify a building site have been unearthed at the Tehara ruins here.

Find at Japan's Shiga ruins suggests ancient Buddhist site-cleansing ritual
Five earthen containers arranged in a cross shape and four plates positioned at
the corners of a hole discovered at the Tehara ruins in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture
 [Credit: Ritto City Board of Education]

The peculiar arrangement of the pots in a cross shape, with points facing north, south, east and west, suggests they were part of an esoteric rite in the Buddhist tradition, according to the Ritto city board of education.

“In Buddhist site-purification rituals, noxious vapors are purged by placing Buddhist images at nine points around a square, including the center,” said Masayoshi Mizuno, an archaeologist and director of the Gangoji temple institute for research on cultural property. “This indicates there used to be an important building there.”

The find is believed to be the first of its kind in Japan.

The jars, complete with lids, were found inside a hole 28 centimeters deep and 70 cm across in an open area at the ruins of a building that is believed to have served as a public office or private house for a local leader.

“Hajiki” clay plates 3 cm high and 13 cm in diameter were also found at the four corners of the hole.

Each of the containers, measuring 14 cm in diameter and 12 cm high, contained five “Fujushinpo” coins forged in 818. A peach seed was also found in one of the containers.

“The pots that contain offerings appear to have been deliberately positioned in a central location and the four points of the compass,” said Towao Sakaehara, director at the Osaka Museum of History and an expert in Japanese ancient history. “They seem to have been treated with great care.”

“They were likely buried in the hope of prosperity for the building owners and others, given that ancient coins bearing such words as ‘tomi’ (wealth) and ‘kotobuki’ (congratulations), as well as a peach seed believed to clear away bad vapors and bring perpetual youth and longevity, are encased,” he added.

Pottery filled with “Wadokaichin” and “Jingukaiho” coins were also discovered around the hole. The ages of the clay pots and other factors suggest the site-purification ceremony continued for dozens of years, archaeologists said.

Author: Ippei Yaoita | Source: The Asahi Shimbun [January 22, 2015]



Related articles

Herschel telescope detects water on dwarf planet

Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest...

Dark Ages cemetery unearthed in Somerset

A Dark Ages cemetery and more than 100 burials has been unearthed at the site of a new...

Medieval boat unearthed in Norfolk marshland

A 600-year-old medieval boat has been uncovered by archaeologists working on a flooding project in the Norfolk Broads. A...

Spanish authorities recover looted artefacts

The Civil Guard have recovered more than 4,000 archaeological pieces pertaining to different cultures, especially those from the...

Archaeologists discover 13 ancient tombs in Tibet

Archaeologists have found 13 tombs, which are estimated to be between 1,800 and 2,700 years old, in Bomi...

13th century Ilkanid-era pottery unearthed in Iran

Archaeological excavations have uncovered pottery objects dating back to Ilkhanid (Mongolian) era in Isfahan’s Feizabad archaeological site. Excavations in...

5,000 year-old temple found in Peru

A temple believed to be about 5,000 years old has been discovered at the ancient El Paraiso archaeological...

First detection of methyl alcohol in a planet-forming disc

The organic molecule methyl alcohol (methanol) has been found by the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the...