Sacred swords found under Japan's Todaiji Buddha

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26 November 2010
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imports_MIL_todaijitemplenarajap_53538.gif Todaiji Temple, Nara, Japan
Reports from the ancient capital Nara in Japan suggest that two swords found at the end of the Meiji Era, in the early 1900s, are most probably sacred swords believed lost since the year 760AD. ...

Reports from the ancient capital Nara in Japan suggest that two swords found at the end of the Meiji Era, in the early 1900s, are most probably sacred swords believed lost since the year 760AD.

 

The Empress Komyo, wife consort of Emperor Shomum, who built the Buddha of Todaiji Temple, dedicated them along with other items, and buried them under the feet of the temple's giant Buddha statue. A cache of swords was discovered during digging last century, and the two in questionm decorated with gold, silver and lacquer, appeared at the top of a list of some 100 sword offering in the weapon list of the Kokka Chimpo Cho (the book of national treasures in Todaiji).

 

The swords were declared national treasures in 1930. But when research workers recently took X-rays of the swords, they found the inscriptions 'Yoken' and 'Inken' on the blades, which indicate the swords are most likely those called 'Yohoken' and 'Inhoken', the very swords dedicated by the empress in 756 at the memorial service for the emperor who died earlier in that year.

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The question is now why the empress should have had the swords buried beneath the feet of the Great Buddha. Experts say the empress most probably did so, 'hoping that the Buddha hall would last forever'.

 

Find this news story and more in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Classic Arms & Militaria